Catapults have a long history as military machines used to hurl large rocks at opposing forces or enemy strongholds. Until the discovery of gunpowder and the development of artillery, catapults were the most effective means of harnessing natural forces to fling object too heavy to lift manually. Toy catapults do not need to be dangerous items in the back pockets of unruly schoolchildren. Made at home with ordinary household objects, simple catapults can be used constructively for supervised group games. Give each child an equal number of cotton balls, place a bowl a short distance away from the firing spoon, and see who can shoot the most balls into the bowl.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Masking tape
- Rubber band
Roll the newspaper into a log shape and tape it around the middle to hold it firmly in shape. This forms the body of the catapult.
Place the rolled newspaper on top of the rubber band so the band is under the tape, then bring the two ends of the rubber band up to the top of the newspaper and pass one end through the other. You will have a loop of rubber band on top. Hold this secure to prevent the band slipping.
Slip the handle of the spoon through the rubber band loop, then allow the band to tighten around the handle and hold it in place. The loop needs to be about half way along the spoon handle.
Position the catapult on the edge of a table so the handle is overhanging the table edge, then tape the ends of the newspaper to the table to hold the catapult in place.
Operate the catapult by pressing down on the spoon handle then quickly releasing by allowing the fingers to slide off the edge of the spoon handle.
Tips and warnings
- Objects can be flung further by adjusting the position of the spoon handle under the rubber band.
- Tape the catapult to a rigid place mat instead of a table to make it portable.
- Only fling soft objects such as cotton balls or sponge pieces. Supervise children to ensure safe play.
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