DSC_0014Tinker Tots: Catapults!

(Summer 2014)

Topics: Engineering. physics

Place: Fayetteville Free Library

Date: Tuesday, 7/8 from 11-11:30am

Educational Content: We learned:

  • A lever is a simple machine that uses a beam attached to a pivoting hinge, or fulcrum, to amplify the amount of force applied to one end.
  • The lever provides mechanical advantage, or leverage, to make it easier to perform work on the other end.
  • We can make catapults out of all kinds of things!

Books & Resources:


  • Cotton balls
  • Pompoms
  • Plastic spoons
  • Salad tongs
  • Empty paper towel rolls
  • Duct tape
  • Rubber bands
  • Scrap wood
  • Styrofoam blocks
  • PVC Pipe


  1. I started off by reading Katy Did It!, a story about a cricket/grasshopper gets into all kinds of trouble hopping into things, until she is able to use her hopping to save a family of ants. At the end of the book, Katie uses a lever to catapult an olive out of the anthill. Since the book does not use the word catapult, nor does it explain how simple machines work, you will need to add that context.
  2. Then I allowed the children to choose their materials. I only had three rules: 1. We can only launch SOFT things (pompoms and cottonballs). 2. We are launching them from a catapult device, not throwing them. 3. The wood scraps and PVC pipe must stay on the floor.
  3. This was a wildly popular program, and some of the catapults were really creative!DSC_0019