The Great Marshmallow Catapult Project: Teaching Innovation to Undergraduate Students

I teach MKT410: New Product Development at the University of Alabama's Culverhouse College of Commerce. Teaching undergraduate students about business innovation and creativity can always be fun. (It's not just about memorizing the vocabulary for the test!)

Want to try your hand at innovation this summer? Here are instructions on how to build your own Marshmallow Catapult at home:

Build Your Own Marshmallow Catapult in Five Easy Steps

Marshmallow Catapults can be fun to build for people of all ages.

1. Study the Types of Catapults

The three main types of catapults are ballista, mangonel and trebuchet. Research these catapults and how they work to think about your own design.

2. Gather Your Materials

You can use almost anything to make catapults. From recycling something you have around the house to buying lumber and more advanced materials. Generally you will need safety glasses, rubber bands, cardboard boxes, plastic and large jet puffed marshmallows. Think about the research you did while picking out your materials and be creative.

3. Draw & Choose Your Designs

Draw three different designs with your materials in mind. Then pick the best design based on your goals – is it to have the marshmallow flying the farthest, the fastest or with the most accuracy?

4. Build & Test the Best Catapult Ever

Start building your catapult and run tests with extra marshmallows to see how it works. If it isn’t working the way you want, then make adjustments with your materials and your designs. Generally, you’ll need to test 3-5 times to get it working and do more research to keep learning. Don’t give up.

5. Launch Those Marshmallows

Create your own Marshmallow Olympics. Set up obstacles and targets and launch those marshmallows. The best two out of three wins. Celebrate your accomplishment and enjoy your new catapult.

See the MKT410 Catapults on You Tube:

Read the article by my Teaching Assistant Kaitlin Allen:

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