I admit it, I am a desktop warfare junkie. One of my best discoveries with my 3D printer was that there are tons of easily printable siege engines on Thingiverse just the right size for my desk. From penny catapults to Q-tip crossbows, I was in heaven. My students love these things as well, particularly catapults of any type. Thankfully, there are easy ways to make catapults without a 3D printer, and most can be built with dollar store items. In addition to being a lot of fun, catapults are a great way to talk about angles, physics, velocity, distance, and more. You can also pull in social studies and history, and even art by using pom-poms and paint with your catapults to make some awesome artwork.
My favorite dollar store catapult requires the following materials:
- craft / Popsicle sticks
- rubber bands
- plastic spoons
Yes, that’s all you need to make an awesome catapult. I recommend making the basic catapult first, and then challenging students to modify it to make it launch farther, or higher, or faster….get creative! Want to go even simpler? How about paperclip catapults?
Don’t think that the kids are the only ones who will get a kick out of this. Challenge your colleagues and administration as well. When I bring the Mobile Makerspace to a conference, the admins are usually the ones clustered around the catapults trying to outdo one another, or even to launch the marshmallows on top of the light fixtures. Remember, we’re all kids at heart!