This little physics experiment could be perfect for a science project. It could also serve as a great way to learn some important concepts like energy, force, and motion, all while having fun!
Kids are naturally very curious and imaginative, and experimenting with things encourages that curiosity. Learn how you can carry out our popsicle stick catapult experiment below.
Materials Required for Popsicle Stick Catapults
- Rubber bands
- Pom poms (or cotton balls)
- Plastic spoon
- Popsicle sticks (or craft sticks)
If you want to get a little artsy, get in some paint too! You could paint your popsicle sticks before carrying out the experiment.
How to Make a Catapult with Popsicle Sticks
Step 1: Stack a few popsicle sticks (or craft sticks) and tie them up with a rubber band at each end.
Step 2: Stack 2 more popsicle sticks and tie them up with a rubber band, just on one end.
Step 3: Pull apart those 2 popsicle sticks slightly and place the first stack of popsicle sticks in between.
Step 4: Make sure to tie together the stack of 2 popsicle sticks to only the upper stick.
Step 5: Place your plastic spoon on top of the upper popsicle stick and tie it with a rubber band.
Step 6: Take a cotton ball or pom pom, and place it on the spoon.
Step 7: Your homemade catapult is ready! Hold the catapult in one hand, and use your other hand to pull down your spoon to release the pom pom!
These catapults for kids could help your child get as experimentative as possible. For example, they could try to place more than 1 pom pom on the spoon and see how far each of these can travel as they launch them. Or, they could move the plastic spoon in such a way that the pom pom travels farther away.
We hope our little popsicle stick catapult experiment teaches kids how to build a catapult (while learning core Physics concepts!) with ease. Some physics concepts they will learn are:
- How every action has an equal and opposite reaction
- Acceleration (due to pressure or force applied on an object)
- Gravity (when the pom pom doesn’t stay in the air for a long time and eventually falls to the ground)
If you’re looking for a digital-physical physics game for kids, check out Osmo’s Newton.
More Designs for Homemade Catapults
- Instead of using a spoon, you could use a bottle cap! For this, you’d just need a hot glue gun to stick the bottle cap to your popsicle stick. It would appear that the catapult shoots higher with a bottle cap than with a spoon. (but not farther)
- Here’s another alternative to a spoon catapult. For this experiment, you’d need a binder clip, hot glue, popsicle sticks, and a bottle cap. First, form a triangle with 3 popsicle sticks and glue them together. Right in the middle of your triangle, glue another popsicle stick. Next, take your binder clip and place it at the end of this stick. Then, glue another popsicle stick at the top of the binder clip. Finally, glue your bottle cap to the “launching” part of that popsicle stick. You’ve got yet another effective homemade catapult! Put some pressure on the bottle cap and there, you have it.