Introduction: Table Top Basketball
This is the first in a series of projects I used to do with my students to teach them about math, science and technology. They ended up with a fun game and didn't have to listen to me lecture. They learned by doing. The object of the game is, of course, to score as many baskets as possible by using the kinetic energy stored in the launcher (a spoon). It is not as easy as it looks and becomes a very addictive challenge!
Step 1: Stuff You'll Need
You will need a base, I suggest something with mass like a chunk of 2x6 (50x150mm) about 12"(30cm) long, some scrap pine and a piece of beveled moulding like chair rail. The other items can be found at your local dollar store. A kid's bat- a-ball set, a piece of round pipe or dowel( I used curtain rod), some heavy duty fishing line, and a small basket like the kind that holds elastics or paper clips. Four non scuff stick on pads will come in handy. Raid grandma's cutlery drawer for a sturdy teaspoon. A cheap bendable one will not do. Get some small wood screws and a washer and you'll also need epoxy and wood glue. And it goes without saying, tools.
Step 2: Preparation
Cut the base to size, approximately 6 x12"(150mmx300mm). I took the liberty of sanding, staining and putting a wood border around mine but that's optional. Cut the rod to about 10"(250mm) and drill a small hole through it about 2"(50mm) from one end. Cut the moulding the same width as the base and glue it across one end of the base with the high side to the outside edge. Drill a hole slightly larger than your wood screw in the end of the spoon handle. Drill a hole the same size as the post in the middle near the other end of the base. Cut the bat in half so the top part resembles a backboard. Discard the bottom half. Pull the elastic away from the ball and discard but keep the ball.
Step 3: Make the Backboard Support
Cut a piece of pine the same height as your backboard. Drill a hole the same size as the post.
Step 4: Assemble the Backboard
Put some epoxy in the holes of the base and support. Push the post into the base with the small hole facing the moulding. Push the support on to the top of the post. Epoxy the backboard to the support. (I sprayed my backboard white to look more realistic.)
Step 5: Install the Launcher (spoon)
Drill a pilot hole in the middle of the moulding on the low edge. Install the spoon using a screw and washer. Make it just tight enough so the spoon can swivel in order to make shots from different angles.
Step 6: Install the Basket
If your basket is beveled, you'll have to make an angled piece so it hangs straight. Use scrap pine for this. Epoxy the basket and angled piece in place. I suggest drilling a pilot hole into the support and screwing the basket to it as well, or just stand there and hold it till the epoxy sets.
Step 7: Install the Ball
Push the fishing line through the hole in the ball and put a dab of epoxy over it to keep it from pulling out. Tie the other end through the hole in the post. Use a good knot so it doesn't come loose. The string should be long enough so the ball sits in the bowl of the spoon and has a bit of slack.
Step 8: Feet and Rules
Stick the four non scuff feet to the bottom and come up with some rules. The rules in the picture were developed by one of my former students but make up any rules you want.
Step 9: Play the Game
Put the ball in the spoon. Put thumb pressure on the spoon and let it go. The ball should launch. Practice till you can score. Remember you can also swivel the spoon. Not as easy as it looks,is it? Build some more but make them different sizes. Each game plays differently. Once we finished the games in my class, we found we could easily while away a Friday afternoon playing them. Have fun!
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