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diy catapult

Build a DIY Catapult Design Challenge

Becky Wright

Becky Wright

About the Author

Becky is an educator and the Lead Digital Skills teacher at the Lindsay Pinnguaq Makerspace. She is passionate about developing an intrinsic motivation for learning within every student she meets. Becky graduated from the University of the Pacific with a Bachelors of Arts in Liberal Studies with a Major in Human Development and Special Education, and a Masters of Arts Degree in Curriculum and Instruction. Prior to beginning her role as an educator for Pinnguaq, she taught grades sixth through eighth in a Montessori school structure. She also spent five years teaching a range of grades from preschool to eighth grade in Bangkok.

Activity

A catapult is a simple machine. It uses a lever to move a load around a fulcrum using force. In this activity you will build a catapult that works by converting potential energy into kinetic energy. When you press down on the bottle cap, you add potential energy, and when you release the catapult, you are converting to kinetic energy.

Background Information

Potential Energy is energy that is stored inside an object just before it sets into motion. Think about how an elastic feels when you stretch it apart to sling shot it; before you release it, it is bursting with stored energy.

Kinetic Energy is the energy of motion. This is when you release the elastic and it sling shots across the room!

A fulcrum is the pivot point around which a lever will turn. When you apply force on one side of the lever, the fulcrum will re-direct the force in another direction.

Materials

7 Popsicle Sticks
Bottle cap or spoon
4 Elastics
Objects to launch like marshmallows, cotton balls, or small plastic balls
Get creative with the materials and try using different things you find around your home!

Step by Step Instructions

step 1 catapult
Step 1: Create your fulcrum: Pile 5 Popsicle sticks together and tightly fasten each end together with an elastic.
step 2 catapult
Step 2: Create you lever: Pile two Popsicle sticks together and wrap an elastic around one end so that the other side can be pulled apart.
Step 3 catapult
Step 3: Attach lever and fulcrum: Slide the stack of 5 sticks in- between the combined 2 Popsicle sticks as far down as possible.

Step 4 catapult
Step 4: Attach load carrier: Attach bottle cap or spoon to the top lever Popsicle stick with glue or tape.

step 5 catapult
Step 5: Time to launch: Place your load (marshmallow, cotton ball etc.) into the bottle cap and press down on the Popsicle stick. Release and watch your load fly!
step 6 catapult
Step 6: Play!

Download Activity

Follow up

Test out your catapult creations!

Turn it into a game by drawing a target, or by placing baskets at different distances to score points.

Post an image of your catapult and on Facebook and tag Pinnguaq!

Additional Resources

Try out an up-cycle catapult activity using recyclables and household items by Go Science Girls!


Share Your Work With Us! We want to see the awesome things you’re all creating with Pinnguaq. Share online with us and tag @pinnguaq on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for your work to be featured. Don’t forget to include the hashtag #LearnWithPinnguaq! Keep tuning into Pinnguaq for more lesson and fun activities!