Intro: A Very Simple Catapult to Make With Kids
The idea for this catapult design came from my six-year-old and we had a lot of fun with it. When I looked around online, I saw a huge variety of catapults, but was surprised that I didn't see this one. I like this because:
a) It's easy to build, even for young ones.
b) It can be modified in a million ways so kids can explore its construction and mechanics.
Step 1: Step 1: What Do We Need?
All it takes to make this is a piece of scrap wood, a clothespin, popsicle stick or tongue depressor and a bottle cap or lid. The fastening is done using a hot glue gun.
Since I usually make these with my younger students, I use low temperature glue guns and they work fine.
Step 2: Step 2: Assembly
First, we put some glue on one face of the clothespin and stick it down to our scrap wood. Then, we put glue on the other face and attach our tongue depressor. I reinforced this one with a second tongue depressor. Doing that, they can last a long time. The ones I made at home with my own kids are still holding up after a year of play.
Step 3: Step 3: the Basket
When gluing on the basket, it's a good idea to leave a little space from the end. That way, it's easy for kids to grab it with their thumb to pull it down.
Step 4: Step 4: Variations
There are so many different designs of clothespins available that present different problems for my students to solve. As you can see from the pictures, this one had a metal ring that came out. The students came up with a good work-around.
Step 5: Variations Contd.
This catapult used a really big clothespin. Just in case the glue wasn't strong enough, it was reinforced with a screw. The pilot hole was drilled with the twist drill you can see in the picture. These are great for kids--cheap and relatively safe. And notice how the small grooves were filed into the popsicle sticks to get them to fit nicely together.
Step 6: Step 6: Have Fun!
After all the competitions to see whose goes the highest, furthest etc... my students like to get out the Kapla/Keva/Citiblocs to build structures and then try to knock them down with their catapults. Ping pong balls work best as projectiles, but erasers work pretty well too!