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Mini Catapult -Arc Tension Design

December 3rd, 2010 · 14 Comments

If you’ve been on the search for easy catapults for kids, here’s one that’s fun to make, fun to play with, and looks cool in science class. How does it achieve its hurling authority? -By harnessing tension to an arc, which acts as a fulcrum for the launch arm. Don’t worry, the design is simple and only takes a few minutes to make. To get started, you need a few household items.
catapult designs for kids

-invisible tape dispenser
-masking tape
-bag of assorted rubber bands
-sheet of paper
-cutting board

1. Tape an invisible tape dispenser to a cutting board. Do this by passing strips of masking tape through the center of the dispenser and wrapping them around the bottom of the cutting board. Further secure the wrapped tape to the cutting board by taping over it in a perpendicular direction. Dispenser must be sturdy and unwobbling. (figure1)

2. Make a mini paper log. To make the log, fold an 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of paper in half (lengthwise). Fold it again (lengthwise), then roll it up tightly. (figure 2)
how to build a catapult for kids
3. Insert the paper log into the center of the dispenser. When you release the log, it will uncoil for a snug fit. (figure 3)

4. Secure a teaspoon to the arc of the dispenser. To do this, fasten it with rubber bands that are looped around the mini paper log. (figure 4)

5. Your catapult is now complete.

How to Launch Objects:
Bend spoon back, insert object, release.

What Objects to Launch: Cotton balls, fluffy end of Q-tips, cut up sponge pieces.

Games to Play: If you make two of these catapults, two people can sit five or ten feet from each other and play the following games:

  • Each person places a popcorn bowl in front of them. Now take turns launching cotton balls. The first person to land ten cotton balls in the other person’s bowl wins.
  • Same game, except the person who is the first to make three in a row wins.
  • Place a loop of string in the middle of the two players (still seated approximately ten feet apart). Each person launches ten cotton balls at the loop (color code them with a marker to keep track.) Give a point for each cotton ball that landed inside the loop. Play again. The first person to score twenty five points wins.
  • Same game, except make a new small loop inside main loop. Cotton balls that land inside the small loop earn double points!

Of course, you will always be motivated to fidget with the design. You may want to add or subtract a rubber band. Or adjust the spoon up or down. Or try a different spoon. That’s the great part about catapults for kids. You can’t separate the fun from the science!

Good Luck!

Tags: Kids' Science · Kids’ Activities

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