Spaghetti Box Kids

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Easy to Make Catapult- Fantastic Soda Can Design

October 14th, 2011 · 65 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

65 responses so far ↓

  • 1 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 =]

  • 2 Jack // Apr 5, 2014 at 10:27 am

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

  • 3 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?

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

    Sounds right. Good luck—

    AV

  • 5 kyle // Sep 1, 2014 at 3:47 am

    how far does it shoot?

  • 6 Spaghetti Box Kids // Sep 2, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    Kyle,

    If you make it well, you could probably launch something like a grape around 30 feet with the roll, or say around 15 feet not including the roll.

    Good luck
    -AV

  • 7 cm // Oct 9, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    How would i make this launch farther?

  • 8 Spaghetti Box Kids // Oct 14, 2014 at 9:49 am

    One easy way to increase launch capability is to use more rubber bands.

  • 9 Eden // Dec 1, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Really cool idea for my catapult for science class. :D

  • 10 Angela // Feb 14, 2015 at 7:41 am

    Is it possible to adjust the launch angle to 3 different angles? If it is, how will I do it? Please reply ASAP. :)

  • 11 Spaghetti Box Kids // Feb 14, 2015 at 11:47 am

    Angela,

    Here’s three ways to go about it:

    First method:
    -Slide the stopper (fig 10 and 11) up and down the fork to change the angle.

    Second method:
    -Change the size of the pencils used for the stopper. Three different sizes will give you three different angles.

    Third method:
    -Tape three quarters to the soda can so the stopper hits the quarters.
    -Repeat with six quarters.
    -Repeat with no quarters.

    Good Luck-
    AV

  • 12 p // May 20, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    this was useful

  • 13 Tamauri // May 17, 2016 at 11:48 am

    I love this video

  • 14 katie // May 17, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    can this catapult shoot more than 30 feet please reply ASAP c:

  • 15 Spaghetti Box Kids // May 21, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    Katie, If your main concern is distance, this design will give you the best results. Yes, it will shoot something like a peanut over 30 ft.

    http://spaghettiboxkids.com/blog/easy-to-make-catapult-super-fling-design/

    -AV

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