Bow and Arrows STEM Activity

Warning: These bows and arrows are super fun to shoot, and the arrows fly far!

Incorporate this craft into your Valentine’s Day celebration, Thanksgiving lessons, Fun Fridays or any day. The bows and arrows can be used as a STEM learning activity, as a game, or just for fun. Ideas for all these uses are provided, in this article, following the directions on how to build your own bow and arrow.

Click the picture to get a printable version of these directions.

How To Make These Mini Bows And Arrows

Supplies:

Popsicle Sticks

Cotton Swabs with plastic sticks

Dental floss – satin/wax

Nail clippers

Washi tape

Bowl of water

Scissors

Steps:

BOW

Soak until wood is soft and pliable.
  • Place popsicle sticks in a bowl of water to soak for at least 2 hours. We want the wood to become soft and pliable. TIP: Add a few extra popsicle sticks just in case one breaks. Note: I used colored popsicle sticks; therefore, I used cold water. However, you can reduce the soaking time by using hot water.
  • Once the popsicle sticks have had a good soak and are pliable, remove one. Leave the rest in the water until you are ready to use them so they will stay soft. 
Clip notches with a nail clipper. These notches will hold the floss in place.
  • NOTCHES: On one end, place the nail clippers at an angle about ¼” from the end of the stick (This is not an exact measurement.You just want to be sure to leave some space.). Clip about a third of the way in. Now angle your clippers the opposite direction above the first cut. This way you are cutting out a triangle notch. Do this on both sides of the stick. Then repeat on the bottom of the stick. This way you will have four notches (see in picture above). 
  • Take your stick with the notches and gently bend into a C-shape. It will straighten some but don’t worry it will hold it’s shape in the end.
Dental floss is tied at the location of the notches. Cut off excess floss.
  • Tie and knot the end of a piece of dental floss between two notches (The notches keep the floss from sliding out of place). Now pull the floss tight and tie it around the bottom notches. You want to pull it as tight as you can without breaking the stick. Note: the tighter the floss the farther the arrows will fly. 
  • Clip off excess floss from where it was tied. Wrap a little washi tape around the middle of the curve in the popsicle stick and Voila! You have a bow.

ARROWS

  • Take a cotton swab and using scissors snip off the cotton of one end.
  • On this exposed end, cut a slit in the plastic less than a 1/4” long. This slit is where the floss on the bow will sit when ready to fire.
  • Wrap the shaft of the arrow with washi tape matching the bow. Be sure to not tape over the slit. Make three or more arrows for each bow. TIP: It is helpful to have a different color of washi tape for each child so they can keep up with their arrows.
  • FIRE AWAY!
FIRE AWAY!

STEM ACTIVITY

Free printable includes this chart as well as set up directions and a question sheet.

When you draw a real bow, you aren’t actually stretching the string. Instead you are changing the shape of the bow, which gives Potential Energy to the bow. When the arrow is released the bow returns to its original shape. Due to this movement, the bow now possesses Kinetic Energy, which sends the arrow forward. The bow acts like a spring.

Potential energy is stored energy. Think of a rock sitting at the top of a hill. The rock is not moving, but it has the potential to roll down the hill. While the rock remains still it contains potential energy. Like the bow, whose shape had changed and is sitting still, waiting, before the release.

Kinetic energy is energy in motion. Once that rock starts rolling down the hill, it is in motion. This is kinetic energy. Much like when the arrow is released, the bow moves to return to its original shape. This motion causes the arrow to fly because of kinetic energy.

Let’s perform an experiment to test what material is best to string our bows. We want a material that will send our arrows sailing the farthest distance. You can get a free printable of this activity by clicking here.

Supplies:

4 Bows – 1 floss bow, 1 rubber band bow, 1 thread bow, and 1 bow made with a material of your choice.

Arrows 3 or more

Tape Measure

Data Sheet and Questions Printable

Directions:

  1. Make bows following the directions above, making only one (1) bow with dental floss. For the others change out the floss for these other materials: 1 rubber band bow, 1 thread bow, and 1 bow made with a material of your choice. In all you will have 4 bows.
  2. Make a hypothesis (See question 1 one on the Question sheet from the free printable). Take an educated guess as to which bow will be most effective. Write your hypothesis at the top of the chart on the data sheet.
  3. Using the floss bow, fire three arrows. Measure the distance each arrow traveled and record the data on the chart. Do this for each of the other three bows.
  4. We want to find the average distance the arrows traveled for each bow. To do this, add the distances of arrows 1, 2, and 3 together for the floss bow. Write this answer in the box labeled Total Distance. Now take this total distance and divide by three (because there were 3 arrows). This answer will be the Average Distance and should be written into the box labeled as such. Do this for the other 3 bows.
  5. Now that all of the data is filled out in the chart, compare the data and write down the results.
  6. Finally, answer the questions on the Question sheet. Be sure to use complete sentences and explain what you have learned.

Game: Knock ‘em Down

Supplies:

Small Dixie size cups

Bows and arrows

Stack 3 small Dixie size cups, on a table, to make a pyramid. Have the contestants stand back about 3 feet (adjust according to how far the arrows are traveling on average – ours were going 5 or more feet) . Taking turns, let each contestant take three shots at the pyramid trying to knock down one or more cups. Everyone who knocks at least one cup down gets to move on to round two. 

For round two, move the line back one foot. Again shoot three arrows but this time only those who knock down two cups get to move on to round three. 

For round three, everyone moves back one foot. This time whoever knocks down the most cups wins. If there is a tie, settle it by backing up another foot and having a shootout. Whoever knocks down one cup, in the fewest shots, wins.


Game: Fire In The Hole

Supplies:

Paper Plates

String 

Hole punch

Tape

Cut out  the inner circle out of a paper plate making a ring, Punch a hole in the top of the ring. Fish a piece of string through the hole and tie at the top of the plate. Make the string as long as it needs to be to hang at a good level from a doorframe or ceiling. Use tape to attach it to the doorway or ceiling. If you would like, you can hang a few rings at different levels. Then have the children try to shoot their arrows through the rings.


I hope you enjoyed this craft and activity. If so, I would love to hear your feedback and see pictures of your bows and arrows.

With a grateful heart,

Heather

Published by Home Study from the Grateful Heart

Welcome new friends. I'm Heather, a homeschooling mama raising three children alongside my husband. I love to walk our two dogs, photograph nature, and write poetry. As a family, we love reading together, creating art, sports and all things nature. We also enjoy sharing our learning experiences with friends and creating co-op opportunities. I enjoy writing about our homeschool adventures, as well as nature and sharing recipes. My heart is grateful for my family, our homeschool, our friends and homeschool community, as well as the nature around us. In addition to following my blog, you can find me on Facebook at Home Study from the Grateful Heart.

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