Elastic Energy Projectile Launcher

EEPL Project Descriptor (Fall 2015)


The objective of this event is to evaluate student knowledge of the conservation of energy, mechanical energy transformations, work, and two-dimensional kinematics, as well as reinforce the principles of Newtonian mechanics. Each team will construct a custom designed and constructed device that will use ONLY elastic energy to launch a projectile a specified distance given a specified energy input.


  1. Each device must be powered solely by a ELASTIC ENERGY.  Each competitor must demonstrate the input energy of the device PRIOR to the launch.  Each device will be re-checked on the day of the competition to verify that this specification is used.
  2. Each team will be provided with a standard issue 3 foot length of black latex rubber elastic tubing to be used as the ONLY source of elastic energy.
  3. The device trigger will be allowed to use a maximum energy of .05 J. (In other words, not very much!)
  4. The initial horizontal position of the projectile must not exceed the starting line marked on the launching area. (No head starts!)
  5. The projectile will be supplied by the competition judges, and will be a standard mass and volume golf ball.
  6. If any of the above specifications are not adhered to, the competitors will be disqualified, resulting in 0 points for the competition launch.
  7. ONE day prior to the competition, the students will be given the distance to the target.
  8. Each competitor will be given two shots, the shot with the maximum horizontal distance will be the measured metric.


  1. Each team will be given a single, 3 foot piece of elastic tubing.
  2. Device components may be made of wood, plastic or metal.  Other materials may be considered if suitable to the team design – check with Mr. Holt.
  3. All trigger components will be made “in house”.
  4. 3D printed parts are allowed.
  5. Recyclable metal fasteners are expected to be used to connect components. NO nails are to be used.
  6. Nylon or fabric string may be used but are not encouraged.

Performance Metrics:

  • Proximity to Target:
    Each team’s device must be designed to launch the standard issue projectile a specified distance. The closest team to hit the target wins the competition.

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