Spaghetti Box Kids

Strategies, Tips and Activities for Learning

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Mini Catapult- Bear Clamp Base Design

November 16th, 2010 · 10 Comments

Here’s an easy to make catapult you can put together in minutes. The design uses the “bear clamp base” technique to harness tension. Once you grasp this technique, you can easily apply it to your own unique catapult designs. To get started, you need a few items from around the house.

how to make a catapult for kids
-roll of tape from invisible tape dispenser
-masking tape
-bag of assorted rubber bands
-twistie tie (found on loaf of bread )
-cotton ball
-cutting board

1. Remove tape roll from an invisible tape dispenser. (Roll of tape should not be empty.)

2. Fasten the roll of tape to the middle of a cutting board. Do this by inserting strips of masking tape through the center of the roll and wrapping them to the bottom of the cutting board. Tighten the bond of the wrapped tape by taping over it in a perpendicular direction. Roll of tape must be fastened securely to the cutting board so that it does not wobble. (figure 1)

3. Rest a teaspoon against the roll of tape. Fasten the base of the spoon to the cutting board with rubber bands. To do this, wrap rubber bands around the cutting board, then lift slightly and insert the base of the spoon beneath the rubber bands. catapult designs for kidsNow secure the base of the spoon to the rubber bands with tape. (This device is called the “bear clamp base.”) (figure 2)

4. Tape a cotton ball to the bottom of the bear clamp base to muffle the noise of the teaspoon when the catapult is flung. (figure 3)

5. Install a safety belt around the middle of the spoon so that it stays in place when the catapult is flung. To do this, insert a twistie tie (or pipe cleaner, etc.) through the center of the tape roll and loosely tie it around the mid section of the spoon. The safety belt should have several inches of slack so that it doesn’t constrain the thrust of the spoon when the catapult is flung. (figure 4)

6. You have finished the Mini Catapult Bear Clamp Base Design (figure 5)

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

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

Three additional design ideas for use with the bear clamp base design:

In place of the roll of tape, try using:
– a paint roller (used to paint the walls of a house)
-a tennis ball
-two bars of soap fastened together

Of course, there’s no end to the variety of household objects you can use with the bear clamp base design. Good luck!

Tags: Kids’ Activities · Kids' Science

10 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Anna // Apr 8, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    I love your easy catapult designs. I should say–my kids love them!! Thanks for sharing your knowledge, and especially for the excellent illustrations :)

  • 2 Spaghetti Box Kids // Apr 10, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    Sure thing- I’m glad they’re a hit in your house. Here’s something to keep in mind: an easy way to keep this activity fresh is to maintain a steady supply of new and unique targets. Best of luck–.

  • 3 foreverme // Nov 27, 2012 at 12:12 am

    I was wondering if it was possible for you to put up a plan to make a more hightech catapult, possibly, to launch a softball 3 meters.
    Your ideas are all very clever, this softball one can really help me out.

  • 4 Spaghetti Box Kids // Nov 27, 2012 at 6:40 am

    Try this design:
    …but instead of 1 coat hanger, try banding 6 or 7 together, and use a more substantial launch cup–like the bottom 3 inches of a half gallon milk container.

  • 5 Alex // May 15, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    I did this catapult for a school project and it was amazing! Shot well and was easy to make.

  • 6 Spaghetti Box Kids // May 15, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    Alex, Cool. Glad to hear it . Thanks for offering your post-project feedback.


  • 7 Frank // Sep 27, 2013 at 8:08 pm


    My friends love them!

  • 8 Zion // May 4, 2014 at 8:51 am

    Would you possibly have an Idea that would launch a golf ball 6 meters? Your ideas are amazing.

  • 9 Spaghetti Box Kids // May 5, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    Try the Superfling design…

    …with 3 or 4 hangers banded together (instead of just one). You’ll also need a sturdier launch cup: something like a small funnel would work nicely.

    Good luck–

  • 10 Bill Johnson // Jun 5, 2015 at 10:06 am

    This was very helpful :)). I really loved the design. my six year old daughter really liked it. she was so fascinated. such a great website. my wife Susie really loved it also she says that it is “super fun and educational, very kid friendly. will visit again” Thank you guys so much :0)

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