Here's one of the cool things about engineering—when something doesn't work, you can keep changing and adjusting until it does work. Failure is part of the engineering process! Learn from each attempt and try again.
Plastic brick catapult
Use the images below to build your Lego brick catapult. You can use similar size bricks if you do not have the exact bricks and Legos in the images.
1. Collect your materials. Gather the pieces shown in this photo. Feel free to substitute similar pieces if necessary.
2. Build the catapult base. Assemble two wheels and an axle. Place two 2x1 bricks on top after attaching the wheels.
3. Build the launch basket.
4. Place a long flat brick on top of the catapult base. This will be the catapult arm. Leave room on either side for the launch basket and for your finger to press the arm.
5. Place the launch basket on the catapult arm. The end of the arm should stay elevated until you provide the energy to launch an item from your catapult!
6. Test that the base, arm, and launch basket are secure by pressing a few times on the elevated side of the catapult.
7. Launch that payload!
Consider making these tweaks:
- Experiment with different brick sizes to make your basket
- Adjust the basket's location on the arm
- Adjust the arm's location on the base
Remember, engineering is about observing and making adjustments. What did you learn?
Rubber band catapult
Ready for a more advanced catapult? Try building one that uses a rubber band instead of your finger to launch your payload.
1. Collect a rubber band and these plastic building bricks.
2. Gather four flat bricks for the catapult frame. Press them into a frame.
3. Place two 1x8 bricks parallel to each other on top of the frame. Be sure to leave some of the 1x8 bricks hanging over the ends of the frame.
4. Build the frame that will hold the catapult arm axle.
5. Place the axle holder on top of the frame (as shown). Get ready to feed the axle (a long stick) through the holes.
6. Find two long bricks with holes in the sides for the catapult arm. You might have to connect the yellow bricks (as shown) so they work as one long brick.
7. Use two 1x2 bricks to connect the longer bricks together.
8. Feed the axle through the axle holder, then the arm, and through te second axle holder. The arm should move freely on the axle. Add 2x1 brick "stoppers" to the catapult arm. Push the small cylinders—one on each side of the axle.
9. Wrap the rubber band around both the end of the base you built earlier and the catapult arm. If you're using a larger rubber band, you might have to twist yours once more around the arm to make it tighter.
10. Test your catapult! Hold the base while pressing down on the back. Then quickly let go. How does the rubber band make the catapult arm and its payload move?
Check out the engineering video below to see how these catapults work. You'll also see how to make a bonus marshmallow catapult!
Here's what you'll need to construct a marshmallow catapult.
- Masking tape
- Plastic spoon
Use your engineering skills and creativity to make up your own design! Remember: as we saw in the Gumdrop Challenge, triangles are your friend and large bases can hold more weight!
Did you know? Modern catapults like this rubber band design can be found on aircraft carriers.
Have fun engineering your catapults at home! Share your catapult successes and failures with us by using #TCMatHome on social media!
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