Magnolia Mudd and The Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe
After reading Magnolia Mudd and The Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe my students do a STEM launcher activity, Magnolia Mudd loves to create and design things and Fridays are her favorite day of the week because she gets to invent things with her Uncle Jamie Mudd. Her uncle is a rocket scientist and their motto is “Mudd Power.” One Friday Jamie tells Magnolia that he is getting married and they would like her to be involved in the wedding. She doesn’t want to wear a frilly flower girl dress so she uses her inventiveness to come up with another way to be involved in the wedding.
Magnolia is a clever, determined main character, and students will feel inspired to invent their own creations after seeing Magnolia’s determined attempts to invent a way into her uncle’s wedding in a way that feels true to who she is. Magnolia makes mistakes along the way and is a great model for discussing growth mindset, and will appeal to student makers and inventors.
Making a Launcher With Students
Building a Launcher:
After trying many different ideas, Magnolia finally decided to make a confetti launcher for her Uncle’s wedding. Today after reading Magnolia Mudd we are going to make a pom-pom launcher.
- 6 small popsicle sticks
- 3 heavy-duty rubber bands
- 1 plastic spoon
- 1 additional popsicle stick
- 1 cap from a water bottle
- A hot glue gun
Instructions for Launcher
- Stack 5 popsicle sticks on top of each other. The sticks should all lay flat on top of each other (like a hot dog bun.)
- Use a rubber band and wrap it around one end of the popsicle sticks. You will need to keep twisting and wrapping the rubber band until it is tight.
- Do the exact same thing to the other side. When you’re finished your stack of popsicle sticks will be secure on both ends.
- Slide one stick in between the 2 bottom sticks. The one that you just slid in should look like a diving board.
- Rest your spoon on the top stick and line it up with your diving board stick.
- With a rubber band secure the end of the spoon to the small end of the stick. (see picture below.)
- Put your pom-pom on the spoon and use your finger to push down on the spoon and launch your pom-pom.
Follow the instructions for the launcher, but don’t use the plastic spoon. Instead of a spoon use another popsicle stick in its place. Secure the bottom and top sticks with a rubber band at the end. Your launcher will look just like the picture except instead of a spoon your top piece will be another popsicle stick. Using a hot glue gun carefully glue the water bottle cap to the end of the top popsicle stick. Make sure that you glue the flat side of the cap to the stick. After the glue has cooled you are ready to try your launcher.
Revise and Redesign
Now that you have made a launcher you can revise and redesign like Magnolia Mudd did in the story and see what works best. You can try some of the following ideas or come up with your own.
- Try larger popsicle sticks
- If you used the hot glue gun, try using a large-cap instead of a small one.
- What happens if your stack of popsicle sticks is smaller or larger?
- Try launching something heavier than a pom-pom. You might try small erasers or marshmallows.
- You can decorate your launcher with markers or paint.
- Try putting tape around the sticks. Does it help your launcher?
- Place a piece of tape on the floor and see who can launch their object the farthest.
- Do heavier or lighter things fly the farthest?
I normally make launchers (catapults) with my students in person in our Makerspace. We make them without the spoons. If I’m making them with a younger grade I pre-glue the caps onto the popsicle sticks before we start the project. My 3rd- 5th graders use the hot glue gun to adhere the caps to the sticks. This is one of my students’ favorite projects because after we all have our launchers made I give them mini-marshmallows and we have a marshmallow war.
This year because of COVID I am sending home STEM projects with picture books. I changed the instructions to a plastic spoon because I don’t know if students will have a glue gun at home and I want to be able to send home everything a student will need to successfully complete the project. 3rd-5th graders should be able to complete the launcher independently. Younger students might need help securing the rubber bands on the ends. When I’ve done this in big groups, generally there will be at least one student that can help me with the students that are struggling.