The Catapult

Pedagogical guidelines and construction instructions

The Catapult is a toy that is extremely simple to make. It has the capacity to fire a small, lightweight projectile (payload) a short distance. The AutoSTEM Catapult is made from wooden sticks that are used for ice cream or for naming seeds in a garden, elastic bands, a bottle top and glue or a split pin. It can be used indoors or outside. It is suitable for children age 3 to 9 years.

It results in a toy that can be used by the children in many ways and opens up a number of subject areas for further learning. Catapults are very motivating and exciting toys for children. It is fun for the children to be allowed to play with their Catapults, once they have made them.

Areas of learning include:

  • To learn Mathematics including counting, addition, use of table, measuring. simple statistics
  • To learn physics and mechanisms
  • To develop engineering competencies of analysis and construction
  • Other soft-learning goals can be included; problem solving and creativity.
How to make the Catapult
  1. Instructions:
    How to build and use the Catapult – Download the step by step guide in English here
    Hvordan du kan lage og bruke katapulten – Download the step by step guide in Norwegian here
    Catapulta – Download the step by step guide in Portuguese here
    Катапулт – Инструкции за изграждане и педагогически насоки Bulgarian
  2. Templates for the target (if you want to use them) can be found in the step by step guides.
  3. Video tutorial (see above)

Examples of ways to use the Catapult

As detailed in the Step by step guide there are at least 4 different Mathematics games that can be used for teaching Mathematics with the catapult. But teachers can take the ideas further especially in changing permutations of the catapult, how big or small, placement of the fulcrum and size, weight and air resistance of the payload. Teachers can also ask the children to express their creativity in the design of the catapult or do research and find out and make catapults used in warfare.

Below we show 2 videos of how the catapult can be used.

How a catapult can be used for a simple game that includes, measuring, tables and addition. It can easily go a step further and include average, shortest and longest, as well.
This video takes the ideas of the first video further and includes ideas that can be used up to secondary school children.