Catapults are an ancient weapon used to hurl objects across great distances. These machines work without the use of electricity or explosives, instead harnessing the power of tension and engineering to produce all the power needed. Teach your Cub Scouts about catapult history, engineer and team work as you help them build catapult models of their own.
Scouts can create a miniature catapult using common art supplies. Create a base for the catapult by laying 10 Popsicle sticks side by side. Glue two more sticks perpendicularly on both sides of the row to connect the base. Separately, glue one clothespin on top of another clothespin, stacking them on their skinny side. Attach the clothespins to the centre of the Popsicle stick base. Wrap a rubber band around the top prong of the top clothespin, and slip a plastic spoon underneath. Put a bead or pebble in the spoon, pull back, then release to send the ammunition flying through the air.
Help Cub Scouts make a more sophisticated catapult out of wood. Make the arm of the catapult by drilling a small hole in the top of a Popsicle stick, then tying a piece of string through. Glue a cap or small container onto the stick over the knot to serve as the catapult basket, and glue a dowel across the back of the arm that will anchor the catapult mechanism.
Mount this arm on top of a wooden block with a nail driven through it. Loop a rubber band around one side of the catapult arm's dowel, wrap the rubber band around the nail and loop the other end around the other side of the dowel. Place ammunition inside the cup, pull the string and release to set the miniature catapult in motion.
Allow Cub Scouts to experiment with catapult engineering. Start off your meeting by teaching the youngsters about catapults, including how they were used in ancient times and how the machines use tension to hurl objects through the air. Give the Scouts various supplies they can use to make their own catapult model, including rubber bands, clothespins, hangers, wood, nails, tape, Popsicle sticks, spoons, cups and glue. Encourage the Scouts to share their ideas and designs with each other, either by working in a group or through a show-and-tell.
Allow Cub Scouts to try out homemade catapults by launching ammunition across an open space. Begin by asking them to create target markers along the space, using a measuring tape and chalk lines. When everyone has cleared from the area, let the Scouts launch their catapults one at a time. Let them experiment with different ammunition, such as marshmallows, beads and coins, to see what objects fly the farthest.