STEAM Corner: Engineering On The Fly


March 23, 2020

By Jess Alexander

Categories: Kids & Families, STEAM

Welcome to STEAM Corner, a new blog series featuring Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math projects for the whole family to do at home. Designed with materials you probably have on hand, these fun and educational projects will keep your brains busy while the Library is closed.

Stay home. Stay safe. Stay STEAM-y.

Want to show off your project? Share your pictures and videos on social media and tag the Library!


Build a lever to launch an object as far as possible.


launching levers supplies


  • Long spoon
  • Toilet paper tube
  • Rubber band
  • Ball (or other launchable item)



Attach your spoon to the toilet paper tube with a rubber band. Put your launchable item in the spoon’s bowl. Thump the end of the spoon to make your object fly.

Try placing the fulcrum (tube): near the bowl of the spoon; in the middle of the spoon; and at the end of the spoon. Record your results.

launching levers pictures



1. How far did your object fly?
2. How did the position of the fulcrum affect the trajectory (flight path) of your object?
3. Which lever configuration had the best results?
4. What was the funniest object you sent soaring?


The Science

A lever is a simple machine used to make work easier—and, in our case, more fun. It is composed of a rigid beam that rests and pivots on a fulcrum to move a load. In a first-class lever, the pivot is in the middle and the load sits on one end. Pushing or pulling on the other end moves the load. Our project is an example of a first-class lever: the toilet paper fulcrum is in the middle, and when we push down on one end, our launchable item goes up. See-saws, scissors, cooking tongs, and crowbars are all levers. Can you spot any other levers in your everyday life?


Further Reading

Want to try more projects? Get inspired with these books (all available as free ebooks with your library card):


Jess Alexander is a Youth Services Librarian at Morton Grove Public Library.