Penny Launcher Activity

3.9 based on 11 ratings
Updated on Nov 6, 2013

Help your young scientist explore how a lever works by launching pennies across the kitchen. Who knew science could be so fun?

What You Need:

  • Two rulers
  • Masking tape
  • Two fat markers or highlighters
  • Pennies or buttons

What You Do:

  1. Before you get started, move anything that might break or spill when pennies start flying through the air.
  2. Explain that a lever helps you move an object farther than you could without one. A lever works when a bar moves over a pivot point called a fulcrum.
  3. Tape one highlighter to the table top, near the edge of the table. The highlighter is your fulcrum.
  4. Lay a ruler on top with the fulcrum in the center. Place a penny on the end of ruler, and launch it by pressing down on the other end. Ready for takeoff!
  5. The longer the lever, the more force is applied to moving the object. More force means more energy and more distance that the penny will travel.
  6. Have your child tape down the second fulcrum and position the ruler. Make sure the fulcrum is in a different place on each one. Now fire two pennies. Which one went farther? Why?

Experiment by shifting the lever on the fulcrum. How does this affect how far the penny flies? What difference does it make when you launch a nickel or a quarter?