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Active Time
10-20 minutes
Total Project Time
10-20 minutes
Key Concepts
Physics, engineering, kinetic energy, potential energy, projectile motion

Introduction

Catapults were mighty handy for pirates in the golden age of piracy (during the 17th century). And medieval knights used them centuries earlier for taking down massive castle walls. Even Greeks and Romans used catapults about 2,000 years ago! These simple machines are quite handy, as long as you know how to aim them! In this science activity you will try your hand at catapult technology. Can you predict where your cotton ball will land?

Credits

Ben Finio, PhD, Science Buddies
This activity is not appropriate for use as a science fair project. Good science fair projects have a stronger focus on controlling variables, taking accurate measurements, and analyzing data. To find a science fair project that is just right for you, browse our library of over 1,200 Science Fair Project Ideas or use the Topic Selection Wizard to get a personalized project recommendation.

Materials

  • Popsicle sticks (8)
  • Rubber bands (at least 5)
  • Glue
  • Plastic bottle cap to hold a cotton ball
  • Cotton ball (If you do not have any available, you can make a small ball by crumbling some paper.)
  • Small open area (One square meter will do. It should be a sturdy, flat surface such as a table or floor.)
  • Optional: markers to decorate your popsicle sticks
    Materials to make popsicle stick catapult

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Active Time
10-20 minutes
Total Project Time
10-20 minutes
Key Concepts
Physics, engineering, kinetic energy, potential energy, projectile motion
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