Odd objects such as a shoebox, rubber bands and a plastic spoon can keep a student occupied for hours.

Margate’s third-graders confirmed that Wednesday and went further by proving students can also learn valuable lessons from playing with a pile of junk.

Third-grade classes at William H. Ross III Inter-mediate School in Margate recently completed an interdisciplinary science, technology, engineering and math project in which they designed and constructed marshmallow catapults out of random everyday objects.

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The projectincorporated math and science skills the students have been learning, such as measurements, fractions and physics, to build a catapult that can launch a marshmallow from the end of a plastic spoon to the other side of the classroom.

On Wednesday, the third-graders lined up along both sides of a hallway and took turns testing their designs to see whose could send the marshmallow flying the farthest before plopping to the floor.

Jessica Cuevas, one of three teachers leading the project, said project-based instruction is “21st century learning.”

The projects also teach the students teamwork and problem solving, Cuevas said, as the students often have to compromise on ideas and deal with issues that come up, such as a snapped rubber band, a ripped piece of tape or missing marshmallows that mysteriously ended up in someone’s stomach.

“It’s OK to make mistakes,” said 8-year-old Ava Coffey.

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