Have you ever wanted to build your own catapult to fling objects across the room? With a few common household items, you can construct a simple but effective catapult without spending any money.
Gather the Necessary Materials
Making a DIY catapult is an easy project that requires minimal materials. Here are the main items you’ll need:
Popsicle sticks – These form the base and launch arm of the catapult. You’ll need around 12-15 sticks.
Rubber bands – Look for larger, heavy duty rubber bands. These provide the power to pull back and fling the projectile. You’ll need 2-3 bands.
Spoon – A plastic spoon works best. This acts as the launching cup/sling that holds the projectile.
Paint stir stick – This forms the vertical frame piece. It should be a flat, wide stick.
Glue – Any all-purpose glue will work to hold the catapult together. Hot glue works especially well.
Projectiles – You can use anything small and light like marbles, ping pong balls, wadded paper, pom poms, etc.
That’s it! These basic craft supplies are all you need to construct a working catapult. Now let’s go over how to assemble it.
Follow these steps to build a simple popsicle stick catapult:
Construct the Base
Take 8-10 popsicle sticks and glue them side by side to form a long platform. This base should be around 6 inches long.
Allow the glue to dry completely so the base is sturdy.
Add the Vertical Frame
Take the paint stir stick and glue it vertically along the center of the popsicle stick base.
Let the glue dry fully before moving on. This stick should stand about 4-5 inches high.
Create the Launch Arm
Take 2-3 popsicle sticks and glue them together side by side. They should be the same length as the base.
Glue this stick to the top of the vertical frame piece. Position it so the stick can swing freely up and down to act as the launch arm.
Allow the glue to dry completely before pulling back the launch arm.
Attach the Rubber Bands
Next, take 2-3 rubber bands and loop them around the ends of the launch arm and base.
Stretch and crisscross the bands so they create tension when you pull back the launch arm.
Add the Spoon Launch Cup
Finally, take a plastic spoon and glue the handle sideways across the tip of the launch arm.
The spoon creates a small cup or slingshot to hold the projectiles.
The catapult is now ready for launching! Check that the mechanics work smoothly before loading any projectiles.
Here are some tips for getting the best launches from your homemade catapult:
Pull the launch arm back an equal distance each time for consistency. Don’t pull too far or the rubber bands may snap.
Vary the number of rubber bands to adjust the launch power. More bands provide more force.
Experiment with different projectile sizes and weights. Lighter items will fly farther.
Adjust the launch angle for more vertical vs horizontal launches. A 45 degree angle often works best.
Make sure the base is on a flat, level surface so it doesn’t tip over on launch.
Fine tune the placement of the spoon cup to stabilize the projectiles for straight flights.
Have fun testing launches but avoid aiming at anything fragile! Eye protection is a good idea.
With some trial and error, you’ll be able to calibrate your catapult for impressive launches across the room. Share the fun by hosting a marshmallow or ping pong ball launch competition!
If your catapult isn’t working properly, here are some common issues and solutions:
Problem: The launch arm won’t swing smoothly.
Solution: Make sure no glue or rubber bands are restricting movement. Loosen or reposition as needed.
Problem: The projectile falls out of the spoon cup on launch.
Solution: Adjust the angle and position of the spoon cup for better stability.
Problem: The rubber bands keep snapping.
Solution: Use heavier duty bands. Don’t pull back too far. Reduce the number of bands.
Problem: The catapult base slides or tips on launch.
Solution: Add weights like books or heavy objects on the base for stability.
Problem: The projectile curves off course.
Solution: Check that the vertical frame is perfectly perpendicular. Adjust the spoon angle.
Some trial and error is expected, but simple fixes like these will have your catapult launching properly in no time. Just be patient making adjustments as needed.
So grab your popsicle sticks and rubber bands and unleash your inner medieval engineer. Use these steps to build your very own mini catapult that can fling objects across the room! It’s an entertaining STEM project for kids and adults alike. With a few common craft supplies, you’ll be amazed at the launching power of your homemade contraption. Fire away!