Play Sighting 0017 | Snow Shovel Ball Launcher

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A blue and black soccer ball grabbed my attention as it flew through the 8 degree air ahead of me. Two happy eight-year-olds chased it down. “You missed the target,” one yelled, “I bet I can hit it.”

As I drew closer, I could see the rest of the story. In the cold dusky hours of this winter Wednesday they had built a ball launcher with available loose parts. They had positioned a large hunk of firewood on a flat spot in the house’s small front yard. On top of and perpendicular to the firewood hunk, they placed a snow shovel so that it’s handle was on the ground and the blade was up in the air. The ball was then carefully balanced in the shovel’s handle. With a quick stomp on the shovel blade, the ball flew into the air towards a target I was unable to identify.

The tracks in the fresh snow indicated that they’d been at this exploratory play for a while–repeating their experiment, refining the position of the lever on the fulcrum, varying the amount of effort used to move their load, learning STEM without even trying.

Content Creator and Curator at

Jeff is an early learning speaker, toymaker, podcaster, content creator, author, and founder of Playvolution HQ who is really bad at getting his picture taken.

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