by Lisa Tome
Maggie McCormick didn't have enough hands to build a catapult, so she used her mouth to help stabilize the project as she applied rubber bands.
Nearby, others used elbows, chair backs, and whatever else they could as construction tools.
Catapult Competition, a STEM learning program, for teens was underway at Chesapeake City Library. The immediate goal was to build a catapult without help from anyone. The longterm hope is that those in attendance learned a little about engineering mechanics and how to read diagrams.
Library associate Riley Johnson led the program. Johnson provided piles of rubber bands in various sizes, wooden pencils, popsicle sticks, bottle caps, toothpicks, and mini marshmallows. Johnson explained that the two sets of building options were suggestions. "These are not law. These are guidelines," said Johnson. "They're doing really well figuring it out. It's cool to see the trouble shooting as they go."
"Getting the pencils and rubber bands in place is the challenge," said Caitlin Roush, 12.
Each of the eight girls who signed up for the program shared one goal. They had to build a catapult which would shoot a marshmallow into a wall of cups. The goal was to knock down as many cups as possible.
"We want them to learn by doing and interacting with each other. They are doing an hour of building and an hour of testing the catapults," said Johnson.
Kelly Marro is the mother of a 12-year-old girl who attended the catapult building. "We utilize the library all year round. The programs are fun, entertaining, and educational," she said. She also said that the book collection encourages her daughter to read.
Marro's daughter, Olivia, said she enjoys the library programs. She said that Johnson makes the programs fun.
"I like a lot of the library programs. I've never made a catapult before. It's really fun," said Libby McCormick, 13.
Johnson said the goal of those at the library is simple. "We want to show them the library is fun. Libraries are not what they used to be," said Johnson. "We try to bring fun to the educational. Today, we are flinging marshmallows."
Those who successfully completed the catapult challenge earned prizes. A grand prize winner earned a kit for making more catapults at home. Two runners up also won books on catapult design and engineering.