Spaghetti Box Kids

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Easy to Make Catapult- Fantastic Soda Can Design

October 14th, 2011 · 52 Comments

The best part about making catapults: if you keep doing it you get really good at it. You start one day by asking how to make a simple catapult, and before you know it, you’ve got your own collection. The following method provides plenty of tension in the launch arm for superior launching power. Plus, the soda cans provide a heavy base for added durability. The design is fun and easy, and it only takes five or ten minutes to make.

Tip: Round objects
like rubber grapes
or tinfoil balls
shoot best with
this design.

Materials:

- two 12 ounce soda pop cans (unopened)
- kitchen fork
- ten rubber bands (standard 3.5″ x 1/4″ size is optimal)
- cap from a plastic 2-liter bottle
-two pencils (equal length)
-masking tape

What to Do:

Watch YouTube video or follow the instructs below:

instructions for simple kids catapult

1. Place two soda cans next to each other–one standing up and one on its side. (figure 1)homemade toys

2. Secure the cans in this position with two rubber bands: stretch one around the upper portion of the standing can and wrap it around the lower portion of the bottom can. Stretch the other around the upper portion of the standing can and wrap it around the upper portion of the bottom can. (figure 2 and 3)

3. Repeat step two.

4. Turn the standing can toward you. Insert a fork beneath the belt of rubber bands. The bottom side of the fork should be pressed against the surface of the can. (figure 4)

5. Make sure the belt of rubber bands are pushed to the upper part of the fork prongs to make room for the next step. (also figure 4)

6. Loop a rubber band between the last two left fork prongs and wrap it around the nearest (left) end of the bottom can. (figure 5 and 6)

7. Now loop a rubber band between the last two right fork prongs and wrap it around the nearest (right) end of the bottom can. (figure 5 and 6)

8. Push the fork and rubber bands to the top third portion of the can. (figure 7)

9. Create the catapult launch cup by attaching the cap (from a plastic 2-liter bottle) to the upper portion of the fork handle. pop can catapultDo not attach the cap to the very tip of the handle–leave approximately 3/4 inch free. Attach the cap by placing it against the handle and wrapping it with masking tape. Be sure to press the tape into the bottom of the cup as you loop around, so that the cup maintains its cavity. Make sure cap is securely in place. (figure 8 and 9)

bottle cap games

10. Rubber band two pencils together (pencils should be equal length). Do this with two rubber bands–one left of center and one right of center. Do not over-fasten the pencils together. (figure 10)

11. Create the arc stop: Insert the fork prongs between the two pencils and slide the pencils approximately half way up the fork prongs. (figure 11)

12. Repeat steps 6 and 7 to secure the arc stop. (After using the catapult a few times, adjust the pencils up or down to achieve optimal arc.)

13. Your catapult is now complete. (figure 12)

How to Launch Objects:
easy instructions catapults
Place object in launch cup, pull arm back and release.

Objects to Launch:

Cotton balls, Q-Tip tops, cut up sponge pieces, miniature marshmallows, dry beans, styrofoam balls, corks.

Games to Play:build a catapult for kids

-Set a bucket five or ten feet away from your catapult and see how many tries it takes to launch ten items into the bucket. The next player does the same thing. The player who requires the least amount of attempts is the winner.

-Each player launches five objects toward the base of a wall. Score a point for the three items that land closest to the wall. Play again. First player to reach fifteen points wins.

easy catapult design for kids-One player launches three items and tries to land them as close together as possible. The next player does the same thing. The player whose items land closest together wins. (Note that the three items form a triangle; if necessary, measure the perimeter of each triangle to determine the winner.)

-Complete list of games: Catapult Games for Kids

The soda can catapult design for kids is sturdy, fun, and simple. You can build it in just a few minutes using everyday household items. If your interested in long term use, consider wrapping the cans in masking tape (before you begin assembly) in order to prevent puncturing. Overall, the design has several unique advantages:

  • The bend of the fork tip provides a built-in fulcrum
  • The tilt of the front can provides an ideal angle for the launch arm
  • The two pencils that form the arc-stop allow you to adjust the angle of trajectory (45 degrees is optimal)

Best of luck–have fun with your new catapult!

Tags: Kids' Science · Kids’ Activities

52 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Pat // Oct 15, 2011 at 11:50 am

    My boys are catapult enthusiasts. I love this design~I can’t wait to get them started. Thanks!!

  • 2 Spaghetti Box Kids // Oct 15, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Pat, That’s good to hear. Hope they have fun with it. Thanks for stopping in–

  • 3 Sam // Oct 15, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    //Inspired design. Instructions are crystal clear. Nice!

  • 4 Ann // Oct 16, 2011 at 3:07 am

    Wow- neat!. You find lots of ways to stengthen the arm/ tension. Looks great. Now I just need to pick up some soda cans!

  • 5 Spaghetti Box Kids // Oct 16, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Thanks both for the feedback. Hope you have fun with it.
    Cheers-
    AV

  • 6 backatheclass // Oct 17, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    woooaa.this is gonna werk out perfectoo

  • 7 Spaghetti Box Kids // Oct 17, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    backatheclass- Glad to hear it. (…Hope you get a good grade on it.) Thanks for popping in. Cheers – AV

  • 8 Commor // Nov 18, 2011 at 3:33 am

    Hey backatheclass do you go to tranby????????? my friend does and he is doing a catapult for his work :D

  • 9 sputnik // Nov 18, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    he disappeared; must be busy with his homework haha :-)

  • 10 Caroline // Jan 24, 2012 at 12:51 am

    This is so cool! I think my paper balls are goingto launch REALLY far!!!!

  • 11 Spaghetti Box Kids // Jan 25, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    Caroline, Glad you’re having fun with it. Best of luck with the design. -AV

  • 12 blaze // Feb 19, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    great work!

  • 13 nicky // Mar 1, 2012 at 12:35 am

    wow neat way to make a catapult. im gonna try it :>

  • 14 Spaghetti Box Kids // Mar 2, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Good luck. Remember, the stopper is adjustable, so you can tinker with the ark of trajectory.

  • 15 Magaly // Mar 24, 2012 at 12:03 am

    I need it for my social studies project and then I found this website now I use it for every project :)

  • 16 Spaghetti Box Kids // Mar 24, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Magaly, that’s great to hear. I’m glad the site is helpful to you. Thanks for stopping by and giving your input. Good luck. –AV

  • 17 Molly // Apr 24, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Hey I like this catapult we are going to do it for a science fair project!

  • 18 oliver // Apr 30, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    Great design. Really powerful, and easy to make. Nice!

  • 19 Carl // Apr 30, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    WOW. i love this my boys have so fun doing these projects thank you so much!

  • 20 Molly // Apr 30, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    hey y’all! thanks! I got me an A+! THANKS!

  • 21 carlos // May 8, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    this thing rocks way better than a flimsy popsicle catapult

  • 22 Chris // May 15, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    very cool and original

  • 23 arrasmith // Sep 30, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    thank you this was very helpfull :P

  • 24 Hannah // Oct 18, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    I needed to make a catapult for my Physics class and this was super easy and fun to make! And I got an A! :) thanks the help and information!

  • 25 Rekha // Jan 24, 2013 at 3:24 am

    This is very nice and easy to make. How many simple machines are there in this catapult ?

  • 26 Spaghetti Box Kids // Jan 25, 2013 at 3:59 am

    Rekha, I’ll let you answer that one. -AV

  • 27 Melody Groves // Feb 13, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    Man, this is the sh,t

  • 28 juan // Feb 19, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    muy importante

  • 29 neil // Feb 19, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    cool catapult, quite original.

  • 30 ben // Mar 5, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    Do you have a trebuchet catapult design?

  • 31 Spaghetti Box Kids // Mar 9, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    The trebuchet was effective attacking castles centuries ago, but on a small scale it’s quite cumbersome to make out of household items—that is, if you want to make an authentic one that includes a counterweight and sling.

    If I come up with an trebuchet design, I’ll post the instructions.

  • 32 chunky // Mar 13, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    hello and this looks AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 33 Austin // Apr 2, 2013 at 2:41 am

    No offense but the pictures are hard to understand. They dont really help that much with the project.

  • 34 Anny // May 14, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    this design is very fun and easy to make! THANKS!!! :)

  • 35 alyssa // May 14, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    thanks for the design it was cool and fun to make not what i expected

  • 36 dan // May 31, 2013 at 11:53 am

    i’m liking this design thanks for the easy directions :+>

  • 37 Rich // Aug 6, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    Good work inventing a catapult with nothing more than a few pop cans etc.

  • 38 Jerica hoak // Sep 4, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    Thank you so much i have to do a catapult 4 school so this helped me a lot!!!:)

  • 39 Jer bear // Sep 4, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Thank you so much. I thought i was gonna have to make a whole trip to the store for a little catapult!!!:3)

  • 40 Eddy // Sep 26, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    It is awesome

  • 41 aspen // Oct 4, 2013 at 10:31 am

    what type of catapult is it

  • 42 Spaghetti Box Kids // Oct 5, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Aspen,

    Good question. It’s in the medieval tradition, but it’s one of a kind.

    -AV

  • 43 little b // Dec 4, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    I had to make a catapult for my class to launch a ping pong ball and this worked great!

  • 44 Brad // Jan 3, 2014 at 5:46 am

    I got a B+ in science, but this is TOTALLY worth it!

  • 45 Kaylee // Jan 27, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    Thanks alot for this site! Im a 7th grader and Mr.Smithcamps class Medieval History we are doing a contest who ever goes farthest which is 2 people win go into the assembly contest in front of the whole school

  • 46 Victor // Feb 17, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    I did this for a stem project but is their a way to not let the bottom of the can tilt when your in a launching process?

  • 47 Spaghetti Box Kids // Feb 24, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    Victor,

    If the catapult stands straight up you won’t have an arc on the trajectory. You’ll be shooting line drives and ground balls. That said, if you want to get rid of the ’tilt,’ just wrap the rubber bands around a single upright can instead of the two cans called for in the instructions.

    -AV

  • 48 Malena // Mar 5, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    Nice design. I like how far it traveled.

  • 49 Cody // Apr 1, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    Thanks for this, I needed it for a science project!
    It was one of the best catapults in my school =]

  • 50 Jack // Apr 5, 2014 at 10:27 am

    Wow! This is going to be great for my school project!

  • 51 Kyle // May 17, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    How many simple machines are here? I count 3, the lever, the fulcrum, and the slant. Is that right?

  • 52 Spaghetti Box Kids // May 18, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    Sounds right. Good luck—

    AV

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