Catapults and the Importance of Prototypes by Astrid J.

For our maker project, we are building a catapult. Hopefully it will be displayed at the school’s “Make-o-Rama.” The Make-o-Rama/Makerfaire is where we, makers, get to show off our work. It is very much like the Austin Makerfaire.

Our catapult will be designed to help tennis players get better at their sport. The catapult will throw tennis balls for them to hit. Catapults are not very accurate and consistent ways of throwing things, so this will help our client get better at hitting the balls wherever they are shot, so this forces them to move to get the ball.

So far, we have made a blueprint and a prototype. You can see pictures of the prototype below. We will soon begin building the actual thing. Through this project, I learned about the importance of prototypes. Prototypes can help you to figure out how big things need to be, what needs to be in place in order for it to work and gives you practice for when you go to build your actual product.

The strategy we used to build our prototype was to have all the measurements be half the size of our proposed design for the real catapult. This helped us get a good idea of size comparisons because everything was proportional. We could easily tell if the arm was too long or if we needed to add an extra half inch to our base width. When designing our catapult, we forgot about a hole that needed to be in place in order for it to work. We didn’t realize we needed it until we built our prototype. Since we used Adobe Illustrator to laser cut the cardboard for our prototype, adding the extra hole for the real thing was an easy fix. The third thing a prototype does is give you practice. We were able to see how the building process would work while making the prototype. We also got comfortable with the hand saw that we will be using to cut our dowels for the catapult.

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We hope our catapult will work and be able to help tennis players everywhere.

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