Button Launcher

What You Need:

  • Two rulers
  • Masking tape
  • Two fat markers or highlighters
  • Buttons or pennies

What You Do:

  1. Before you get started, move anything that might break or spill when buttons 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 button 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 button 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 buttons. Which one went farther? Why?


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

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