Building a catapult for a school project or for fun does not have to be stressful. Follow these simple directions to build the perfect catapult today!
Kids loving watching the cause and effect of things. I remember when the kids were little how in awe they were when they learned you could take a plastic spoon place something in the holder and watch it shoot across the room. Of course, I had to remind them that launching chicken nuggets at their brother was not the way to test accuracy and precision.
As they grew so did their imaginations and the spoon launch then became a thing of the past and they started launching larger things like balloons and basketballs with their homemade catapults. Now, we are not doing to teach you to make those big catapults today, but we will teach you how to build a catapult for a school project!
What is a catapult?
A catapult was used in ancient times to launch things at the invaders that were attacking. They would launch boulders, spears, and other things that would cause harm to protect their people. Back in the day, this was one of the best weapons that were used in war.
Since then we have adapted catapults to have fun and launch various objects, but did you know that there is an actual science behind how far an object would go? It’s true the heavier the object or the further back you pull the catapult will determine the trajectory of each object.
Try these fun catapult projects to try it out on your own! If you are looking for other great project ideas be sure to check out these easy and fun paper crafts for kids as well as these fun space crafts.
What can I Launch in my catapult?
Safety is the number 1 concern when it comes to launching things in your catapult. You never want to use sharp or heavy objects that can hurt someone if it was to hit them by accident. We suggest launching things like
- Cut up sponges (you can get these wet!)
- Pom pom balls
- Cotton balls
- Ping Pong balls
- Crumpled up paper
Steps to Designing a Catapult
Before you begin you will want to evaluate these 6 steps in order to build a catapult. So often we jump right into a project without a direction or plan.
So first you will want to start with a plan. What are you trying to do?
Once you discover this then it is time to imagine how to do it. Think about it, brainstorm, talk to others to get ideas.
Step 3 is the planning on paper stage. Draw out your design. Plan the materials that you might need to build the perfect catapult for your school project.
Next, you will want to gather your supplies, possibly head to the store and then you can build a simple design to see if your idea works. This will not be your final project. This is more like your test model so that you can alter it and make the necessary changes.
You will want to test your model if multiple objects in the catapult. How well does it launch? Should changes be made? Improve upon this design.
The final step is to build your final catapult. This time you will want to carefully pay attention that you cut pieces accurately and glue and rubberband just at the right points to ensure your catapult is in perfect working order.
Building your Catapult
You will want to keep in mind that there is no wrong or right way to build a catapult. The materials you use will vary based on your catapult difficulty and your plan that you choose.
Here are some basic supplies you will want to have on hand when building your catapult.
- Rubber bands
- Pencils (unsharpened)
- Hot glue gun/ glue sticks
- Plastic spoons
- Craft sticks
- More rubber bands
- Pipe cleaners
- Bottle caps (big enough to use as your launcher)
- Tape (duct tape, masking tape, and scotch tape)
How To Build a Catapult for a School Project
Craft Stick Catapult- Easy Catapult Idea
In order to create this simple craft stick catapult, you will need rubber bands, a bottle lid, and craft sticks. This is a great catapult for smaller kids to create.
First, you will want to stack 5 craft sticks on top of each other. You will want to rubber band these on both sides tightly together.
Take two craft sticks going the opposite direction and place one underneath your sticks and one on top. (this should create a plus sign)
You will then rubber band only one side of these two sticks leaving the other side to be able to bend and move.
On the top stick on the side opposite the rubber band, you will want to carefully glue your bottle cap. Remember this is where you will put all the things you will launch!
Place a small object in the bottle cap and give it a launch and see how far it goes! Make adjustments as needed to make this catapult the best yet.
Once you create your catapult you will want to observe how it does.
- Be sure you try different angles that you pull the arm nack with as well as hard quickly you let go. Try several methods using the same object that you launch. This ensures that you get the most accurate results possible.
- Tighten and loosen the rubber bands. Does this make a difference in the launch power?
- Try different objects. How do heavier items do compared to light items?
Building catapults is a great way to learn about physics even at a very young age. If your kids love STEM activities this is a great way to get them excited about engineering. Make it a fun competition between the kids to see how can design the best catapult.
What catapult design have you found that works the best? Share in the comments below!
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