Spaghetti Box Kids

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Easy to Make Catapult- Coffee Cup Design

October 29th, 2012 · 32 Comments

If you’re looking for plans on how to make a catapult, here’s a simple design that’s easy to make. It’s surprisingly powerful and easily accommodates variations. Best of all, you can make this simple catapult out of household items. Here’s how to get started:

Materials:Make a Catapult out of Household Items

-Coffee cup with handle
-Rubber bands

Note: Coffee cup must be a cylinder. It cannot be oddly shaped. (figure 1)

What to Do:

1. On a tabletop, lay your coffee cup on its side. Make a Simple CatapultThe handle should be in the down position, resting on the tabletop. Now tape a pencil (your fulcrum) to the top of the coffee cup. (In actuality, this is the side of the cup, but you have the cup resting on its side so the top is now the upper most position.) (figure 2)

2. One at a time, wrap approximately six (size 64) rubber bands around the coffee cup so that a belt of rubber bands is formed just below the pencil (on the side nearest the coffee cup handle). (figure 3)

3. Turn the cup over so the BOTTOM side is exposed. Be sure the rubber bands (that you just wrapped in step two) are aligned with one another. Now secure the rubber bands to the BOTTOM side of the cup with tape. (figure 4) Easy Design

4. Return the coffee cup to its original position so that the pencil is once again in the uppermost position. Now slide a teaspoon under the belt of rubber bands. Slide it just far enough so that the mid-point of the spoon is resting on the pencil. (figure 5)

(See how this catapult compares to other catapult designs on this site.)

5. Slide half of the rubber bands (in this case three of the six) down the teaspoon handle. Easy CatapultRest them near the bottom tip of the spoon. (figure 6)

6. Secure the three lowered rubber bands to the bottom tip of the spoon with tape. Do this by folding a piece of tape over the bottom tip of the spoon and pinching it firmly so the rubber bands are securely fastened. (figure 7)

7. Your catapult is now complete. (figure 8)

How to Launch Stuff

Catapult InstructionsSimply place launch item in the cup of the spoon. Pull spoon back over the fulcrum then release.

Optional: For added stability, tape the catapult to a cutting board. This will make it easier to steady the catapult during launch.

Variations on This Catapult Design:

a. Use a different fulcrum such as three pencils (instead of one), a tube of lipstick, a marker, a cork, etc.

b. Secure the fulcrum in a different position–slightly forward or backward.

c. Use a different number of rubber bands.

d. Change the number of rubber bands that are lowered to the bottom tip of the spoon. Easy to Make Catapult Coffee Cup Design
e. Use a different length of spoon.

Of all the catapult designs on this site, this one may have the greatest output for the least effort. In other words, when you consider how few materials are used, how ordinary those materials are, how easy it is to make this catapult. . .and you compare that to the launch power, consistency and durability, this model rates very well. Whether it’s for science class or just weekend fun, I think you’ll have fun with this design.

Good luck!

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Tags: Kids’ Activities · Kids' Science

32 responses so far ↓

  • 1 james // Oct 29, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    looks cool! does it have to be a coffee cup or can it be a coco mug?

  • 2 Spaghetti Box Kids // Oct 29, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    A long as it’s a cylinder with handle.

  • 3 Anna // Oct 31, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    Looks like catapult wars this weekend! Thanks for the new design!

    -San Antonio, TX

  • 4 marco // Jan 25, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    i like your design

  • 5 nova // Feb 6, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    does it work with a glass cup?

  • 6 Spaghetti Box Kids // Feb 7, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    If it looks like figure 1, you’re good. In other words, it needs to be a cylinder, and it needs a handle.

  • 7 Eve V. // Feb 15, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    Thanks for the ideas!

  • 8 J // Mar 8, 2013 at 3:03 am

    Thx cool used your design cool ez fun!

  • 9 Tan // Mar 27, 2013 at 2:09 am

    Will the handle break?

  • 10 Spaghetti Box Kids // Mar 29, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    I suspect you mean the coffee cup handle. It doesn’t absorb much tension. So it should be fine.

    Your hand absorbs the tension–that is, the hand that holds the cup while the other hand pulls the spoon back. As evidence, try launching the catapult with one hand. You can’t. You need a second hand to absorb the tension while you pull the spoon back.

    Hope that answers your Q-

  • 11 Austin // Apr 2, 2013 at 2:50 am

    I like this catapult a lot. It worked very well for me and it was very easy to make, Thank You!

  • 12 James K. Polk // Apr 23, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    How high can it go I neeed it to go 1 meter high and 1 meter long

  • 13 Spaghetti Box Kids // Apr 24, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    James, It’s pretty easy to make. Why don’t you give it a try and see if it meets your requirements. Good luck–

  • 14 Lily // May 21, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    what is the farthest this catapult can shoot? does it shoot high?

  • 15 Spaghetti Box Kids // May 22, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    Lily, If you want the projectile to have a high arc, tilt the cup back slightly when launching, or construct catapult with this in mind.

    Distance- There are lots of variables. It’s pretty easy to make. Why don’t put one together and test it out.

    Good luck

  • 16 Flamingo // Aug 21, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    Is there a version that doesn’t use elastic’s?

  • 17 Spaghetti Box Kids // Aug 21, 2013 at 9:48 pm


    Good question. I don’t have one on this site, not yet anyway. I have a trebuchet design that fills the bill, but I haven’t gotten around to posting the instructions yet. Soon I hope…


  • 18 Lucifer // Sep 24, 2013 at 4:17 am

    How do I make the catapult aim further? Can I please get a specific instruction like make the fulcrum bigger or put more rubber bands?

  • 19 Spaghetti Box Kids // Sep 24, 2013 at 12:49 pm


    Those sound like good ideas. Why don’t you give those a try–


  • 20 night stone // Oct 7, 2013 at 1:02 am


  • 21 Meow Man // Oct 10, 2013 at 6:03 pm


  • 22 Meow Man // Oct 10, 2013 at 6:04 pm


  • 23 Jargon // Nov 2, 2013 at 8:00 am

    can you explain more on how to launch?
    I dont get it

  • 24 Spaghetti Box Kids // Nov 3, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    Put your object in the spoon. Pull the spoon back and let go.

    Good luck-

  • 25 nicole // Nov 7, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    this is great

  • 26 Carmen // Nov 25, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    My 9 year old brother has to make a catapult for a simple machine project. Very Helpful!

  • 27 tyler // Feb 17, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    this catapult delivers. thanks for the instructons!!!!

  • 28 Lauren // May 23, 2014 at 10:27 am

    Has anyone thought of an easy alternative to the coffee mug? I’d like to do this with a class of kids and I don’t have enough mugs to go around (especially ones I’m willing to possibly give up).

  • 29 Spaghetti Box Kids // May 24, 2014 at 7:57 am


    Maybe each child bring could bring in a coffee cup with handle. Or possibly you could pick up enough of them at a thrift store.

    Alternatively, you can try the soup can design:

    It might be easier to ask each child to bring in a canned good (instead of a coffee mug).

    Good luck–


  • 30 ALEKSEY // Jun 4, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    thank for helping me with my home work

  • 31 Michael // Jun 5, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    I love catapults!!!!!!!

  • 32 dawnshia // Oct 28, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    so coooooool

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