Pom pom catapult

Challenge your kids to build a simple catapult and see how far they can launch a craft pom pom.

You'll Need

  • Plastic spoon
  • 6 craft sticks
  • 5 rubber bands
  • Pom pom

By Candace Lindemann
Children's Author & Education Consultant

Candace Lindemann is a published children’s writer and educational consultant. She holds a B.A. from Yale University and an M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. You can also find Candace blogging at http://NaturallyEducational.com. While Candace’s degrees prepared her for a career in education, she’s found that the best preparation for parenting is on-the-job training.

Leave this as an open-ended activity or give your kids instructions for building a catapult.

You will need a base, the arm with a bucket (that holds and flings the projectile), and some way of creating tension to store up energy. The released energy is what propels the projectile through the air.

The simplest way to do this is to use the simple machine called the lever. The base provides the fulcrum and the arm is the lever. Rubber bands provide the tension for launching the payload.

  1. Take four craft sticks and secure them together at either end with rubber bands (three pencils would also work). This will be the fulcrum.
  2. Secure the spoon to a craft stick.
  3. Cris-cross a rubber band to secure the spoon to the craft stick bundle with just about a half inch of the bottom of the spoon sticking out past the bundle.
  4. Secure the bottom of the craft stick and spoon to another craft stick placed below the bundle/fulcrum. Put a pom pom in the spoon "bucket" and pull back to launch.

Ask the kids:

  • How far can you fling? How accurate is your catapult?
  • What happens if you move the fulcrum bundle closer or further away from where the base and arm meet?
  • Can you improve on this design? Can you add wheels so you can drag your weapon to a siege?