Homemade Catapult Projects Provide Lessons In History, Mathematics

Building a homemade catapult might be right up your alley, if bringing history to life is your idea of fun, or if you're interested in a hands-on lesson in mathematics and physical science.

The variety of homemade catapult projects is about as large as the designs and complexity of the great machines of war themselves. Ranging from full-size recreations of such catapult types as the ballista and trebuchet to more scaled-down models that mostly display the gist of the real thing, these catapult projects can take as much or as little time and money as you're willing to invest.

For beginners at construction, or for those who just want their own homemade catapult without spending much time, effort or money, tabletop models are the perfect place to start. Plans for scaled down catapults can readily be found online in an array of sites that specialize in catapult designs and history.

For a simple "mousetrap" catapult, the only items needed are those readily found in most homes. The materials list for this catapult is short and sweet and includes an ordinary mousetrap, two Popsicle sticks, a rubber band, two erasers and tape, such as ordinary duct tape, and a spoon. The projectile of choice is a marshmallow or something of similar size and weight.

In this homemade catapult design, construction begins by first cocking back the lever of the mousetrap and securing it with a rubber band, which is fixed around the lever and the base of the trap. One eraser is fastened to the mousetrap with the long end of the eraser against the fulcrum of the trap. The second eraser is placed on top of the first so that the second is slightly above the fulcrum. Tape is then placed around both erasers.

Once this is done, the trap lever is released and brought up so it stands next to the erasers. A Popsicle stick is then taped to the level so the stick is perpendicular with the lever - this helps support the catapult mouse trap's arm. Another sticks is then taped to the lever so that it is parallel with the lever. This extends the arm.

A spoon should then be attached to the end of the second stick using a rubber band or tape. Not all homemade catapult projects are this simple, or inexpensive. The ambitious can purchase plans for full-size models on the Internet or they can purchase a program to help them design their own catapult.

To find ideas for your own homemade catapult, go online and search for catapult designs using a search engine such as Google or Yahoo. Some sites offer pre-made plans for catapult designs and even kits so you can assemble your own working catapult in record time. These Sites include www.catapultkits.com, www.trebuchet.com, www.redstoneprojects.com/trebuchetstore, and www.icatapults.freeservers.com. Most plans for homemade catapults will include a materials list and give an indication of the time involved.

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