How to Make a Pencil Catapult

Written by karen curinga
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How to Make a Pencil Catapult
Catapults come in many variations. (Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Catapults have been around for centuries. Their purpose is to propel an item into the air and forward for a considerable distance. Catapults are offshoots of the original crossbow. Over time, as crossbows got larger, they had to be mounted on stands. Eventually, the design had to be modified and later developed into an instrument we recognise as a catapult. These became effective weapons during medieval warfare. Current types of catapults range from slingshots to machines that launch aeroplanes off aircraft carriers. An inexpensive pencil catapult can be made in a few simple steps.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Empty tissue box, family size
  • Hole punch
  • Pushpin
  • Scissors
  • 2 #18 rubber bands
  • 2 unsharpened pencils
  • Pipe cleaner, 4-inch length
  • Tape
  • Plastic bottle cap
  • Craft glue

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  1. 1

    Cut the top from the family-size tissue box, leaving a 1-inch-wide section along each width end.

  2. 2

    Measure 2 inches in from the end and 1 inch down from the top on one lengthwise side and make a mark, using a pen. Punch a hole with the hole punch. Repeat this process on the opposite lengthwise box side.

  3. 3

    Make a hole, using a pushpin, in the centre and 1 inch up from the bottom on the width end farthest away from the 2-inch holes. Enlarge the hole slightly, using a pen.

  4. 4

    Place two pencils perpendicular to each other, laying one on top of the other. Center the top pencil on the bottom pencil with 2 inches above and the remaining pencil length below, forming a cross.

  5. 5

    Cut through one rubber band, making it a strip. Tie the two pencils together at their intersecting point by winding the rubber band around them several times and tying securely.

  6. 6

    Loop the other rubber band over the 2-inch pencil section.

  7. 7

    Insert the pencil cross structure into the box with the pencil perpendicular to the 2-inch section in the side holes. The 2-inch pencil section should be facing toward the 2-inch box length between the hole and box end.

  8. 8

    Thread the pipe cleaner through the rubber band looped over the 2-inch section. Pull the pipe cleaner toward the back of the box, poking its ends through the hole created by the pushpin near the base, pulling it completely through. Spread the pipe-cleaner ends out and tape them securely to the outside box end, opposite the pencils.

  9. 9

    Apply a couple dots of craft glue to the top of the pencil end opposite the 2-inch section. Attach the plastic bottle cap, open side facing up, to the glue. Allow the glue to dry.

  10. 10

    Put an object in the cap. Push the capped portion of the pencil down. Let go.

Tips and warnings

  • Avoid using hard, pointed or sharp items in the pencil catapult.

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