Popsicle Stick Catapult is one of the most exciting and easy Science projects for kids. With commonly available supplies, kids can make their very own launcher that is nothing but fun!
And whosoever thought getting grasp of Physics for kids is tricky, definitely needs to try Popsicle stick catapults. They makes learning physics hands on and are a great demonstration of Newton’s Laws of Motion.
And for those of you who are just looking for some fun ideas for entertaining kids on a rainy day – Popsicle Stick Catapult is a must try!
Kids love getting hands-on and making functional stuff that they can use in their playthings.
These DIY popsicle stick catapults can be used to set up an entertaining target games for kids. And who can say no to a fun session of target games?
Target games are favorites with every kid. Be it the classical dartboard or bowling alley, target games delight each one of us and bring out our inner kid. It would be a great idea to integrate such games with STEM inspired engineering for kids!
All you need to do is make a popsicle stick catapult, set your targets and score!
Here is our neat guide to designing a simple, easy craft stick catapult and setting up a target game for endless fun. It is just perfect for family game nights.
How to Make a Popsicle Stick Catapult
Get hands-on with your kids and let your little engineers make this easy popsicle stick catapult. This super easy popsicle stick catapult design requires readily available supplies that you might have at home already.
Popsicle Stick Catapult Supplies:
- Popsicle Sticks or Craft Sticks
- Rubber Bands
- Double Sided Tape
- Plastic Bottle Cap/ Plastic Spoon
- Ping Pong Ball/ Pom-Pom
Step 1: Stack five popsicle sticks (craft sticks) together and secure them at each end using a rubber bands.
Step 2: Insert a popsicle stick between the first and second popsicle stick on the stack.
Step 3: Take another popsicle stick and secure it with the popsicle stick from step 2, so as to make a V shape. This upper popsicle stick is your launcher popsicle stick.
Step 4: Secure the assembly with a rubber band so as to hold all the popsicle sticks together.
Step 5: Using double-sided tape, paste the plastic bottle cap at one end of the launcher popsicle stick.
If you are using a plastic spoon, you can secure the plastic spoon on the launcher popsicle stick with help of rubber bands.
This popsicle stick catapult design is easy to make and children as young as 4 years can easily make it with little help.
Older kids can study the popsicle stick design and try their own version by altering the number of popsicle stick and improvise.
It is a hands-on way to experiment with physics and understand how a catapult works.
Place the ping-pong ball in the cap and pull down the launcher popsicle stick with your finger and release. Your popsicle stick catapult is ready to launch!
How to Set up Popsicle Stick Catapult Target Game
This part is pretty easy and can have endless combinations, depending upon your creativity. We set up two target games to play with our popsicle stick catapult.
Popsicle Stick Catapult Target Game 1
What you will need:
Step 1: Make Jenga tower by placing two jenga tiles vertically and placing one jenga tile horizontally over the vertical tiles. Make these towers of varying heights by adding more tiles vertically.
Step 2: Place your animal figurines on the horizontal tile.
Your targets are set! Now, take turns in knocking off the figurines from the jenga towers with your popsicle stick catapult and score points.
We took five turns each and the one who knocked maximum animals won!
Super fun and not so easy! Your kids will have to figure out how catapults work and how height and distance traveled by the ball is related.
Popsicle Stick Catapult Target Game 2
This set is much easier and more suited for younger kids 3 to 6 years old. We used jenga tiles for our set up as we had run out of painter’s tape. You can use whatever you have handy.
Make marks on the floor using painter’s tape (we used jenga tiles). In between the marks, place a sticky note indicating the points for landing the pom-pom there. Make three such slabs – the farthest one with maximum points.
Assign five turns to each player and let them launch the pop-pom with their popsicle stick catapults. The player who scores maximum points in the end is the winner!
These are two challenges/target games we made but the possibilities are endless. You can ask your children to come up with their own versions of targets and challenges. Or, you can design a few games yourself, or check out this visual list of STEM activities to keep your kids engaged (and learning).
Science Behind Popsicle Stick Catapult
Popsicle Stick Catapult is a great, easy to understand example of a lever. A lever is a simple machine that has been around for ages and is used to magnify the force applied.
A catapult involves a load, fulcrum and force. In the above popsicle stick catapult, pom-pom balls act as load and the force is applied when you push down the launcher stick -the lever arm.
The point where all the popsicle sticks are joined using the rubber band in step 4, acts as the fulcrum of the lever.
On pushing the lever arm downwards, potential energy gets stored in rubber band and the popsicle sticks.
When the lever is released, this potential energy from the popsicle sticks catapult gets transferred into kinetic energy, giving the pom-pom the required energy to launch itself and travel the distance. That’s Newton’s Third Law of Motion, which states every action has equal and opposite reaction, in action.
Can you guess where was the First Law of Motion applied in the popsicle stick catapult?
Popsicle Stick Catapult Science Experiment
You can turn this entire activity intro a science experiment. Quiz your kids how they can magnify the force more and let them come up with different versions of popsicle stick catapults. Get hands-on on testing their hypotheses.
Test how the popsicle stick catapult works when you move the fulcrum towards the load? Or vary the number of popsicle sticks used in the stack to create additional tension to launch the catapult? Or simply roll the rubber band one more time to increase the tension?
What’s works better? Moving the fulcrum or increasing tension? Let your kids make multiple popsicle stick catapults and record their observation. It is great way to integrate math with science and learn data handling.
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