It’s launch day! build and test a cardboard catapult!

Looking for some cool STEM experiments you can do at home, mostly with things you have on hand? Join me, Dr. Marsha Tufft, as I show you how to build and test a catapult made from cardboard, a paint stir stick, condiment cup, plastic clip, a pencil, and a rubber band!

For full experiment details and videos, check out my webpage,

Catapults are great for learning about transfer of potential energy to kinetic energy. And they’re fun to test. But, kits can be hard to find.

So, this week, your mission--should you choose to accept it–is to build a cardboard catapult, mostly from things you have on hand at home:

  • wood paint stir stick (available free from any store where you can buy paint… they type you use to paint the walls of your house). Most in the US are about 14″ long by 1.125″ wide
  • plastic hook (I use 3M Command damage-free hooks… this is the one thing you may need to buy… you can get them at most any grocery store like Krogers, Walmart, etc.)
  • rubberband(s)… you may want more than one
  • small plastic cup or yogurt cup… the condiment cups you get with pizza (for red pepper or parmesan cheese) or with salad dressing are perfect!
  • pencil
  • duct tape and/or clear plastic packing tape
  • cardboard
  •  ALTERNATE: you can make a catapult out of a cardboard milk carton. It’s not my favorite catapult, but it will work.

Okay, so you’ve built your catapult. Now it’s time to test it!

Take measurementsWeigh your projectiles. Do you see any trends? Learn about potential energy and kinetic energy. Can you make your projectiles go farther? How? Can you predict how far your projectile will go? Can you develop a game using your catapult?

I hope you have fun with this experiment! I had a lot of fun working on it!

Today is double-launch day for me, because I’m bringing this experiment to the Girl Scouts of Western Ohio Summer Camp Facebook Group, AND it’s launch day for my fiction book, Putney and the Magic eyePad… which is just a fun book with STEM adventures and a splash of magic for spice.

Twelve-year old Putney Hicks is an aspiring artist/inventor, who’s transferred to an experimental STEM/STEAM school. She gets into lots of pickles, including a design challenge with arch-rival Sue Wexford. Can she use what she learns about rapid prototyping to come up with a clever design to win the bet? Or will she end up eternally humiliated as Sue’s slave for a day?

Check out my books… they’re written to inspire creative-problem solving skills, and show the fun and magic in science, art, and math… and butterflies! Ebook versions are always free on Kindle Unlimited. Paperback versions also available… sometimes Amazon takes a while to get those loaded.

Learn more about my books here:

Hope you have a great summer!

Dr. Marsha Tufft

P.S. I had my first monarch butterfly of the year in my garden on Sunday… even better–it was a female and she laid eggs on my butterfly weed (milkweed plant, Asclepias tuberosa). So, I’m hoping for caterpillars in a week! I’ve got a cool experiment on butterfly flight I’ll be sharing later this month!

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