The #2 pencil is a classic school supply, and we turned a box of our pencils into a pencil catapult. Who doesn’t love a catapult? There are so many great learning opportunities that a catapult can bring to the table from engineering design to math to science and of course fun! What you launch is up to you!

HOW TO MAKE A CATAPULT FROM PENCILS

Number 2 Pencil Catapult back To School STEM Activity

STEM PROJECTS FOR KIDS

Calling all junior scientists, engineers, explorers, inventors, and the like to dive into a simple engineering project for kids. We love STEM activities you can really do, and that really work!

Whether you are tackling STEM in the classroom, with small groups, or in your own home, our easy STEM projects projects are the perfect way for kids to find out how fun STEM can be.   But what is STEM?

The simple answer is to break down the acronym! STEM is really science, technology, engineering, and math. A good STEM project will intertwine two or more of these concepts to complete the project or to solve a problem.

Almost every good science or engineering project is really a STEM project because you have to pull from different resources to complete it! Results happen when many different factors fall into place. Technology and math are also important to work into the framework of STEM whether it’s through research or measurements.

It’s important that kids can navigate the technology and engineering portions of STEM needed for a successful future, but that’s not limited to building expensive robots or being stuck on screens for hours. Instead have fun with hands-on building activities like this pencil catapult below!

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HOW TO MAKE A PENCIL CATAPULT

Before you sharpen those pencils, design your own pencil catapult. We have made catapults from marshmallowspopsicle sticks, LEGO, and plastic spoons/cardboard tube rolls but never from pencils!

You may need and extra hand to help when it comes to holding the pencils and twisting the rubber bands. However, there are also tons of ways you can build one that’s unique to you!

SUPPLIES:

  • Rubber Bands
  • Number 2 Pencils

SET UP:

Below you will see some photographs outlining the order in which we put the pencil catapult together.

STEP 1: First Picture Below, Build the Main Unit

First, you want to attach two pencils to the middle of one pencil as show below {perpendicular}. This will act as the lever arm/launcher.

Second, you want to attach that single pencil {with the two attached pencils} about a 1/3 of the way down two pencils {that are parallel to each other} for the frame. Check below.

Third, slip a rubber band onto the frame as shown below. Remember this is the tension that will affect the launch!

Fourth, add a pencil to the bottom and to the top to complete the square shape. Note that the top pencil is resting on top of the two pencils in the center

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STEP 2: Build a Base

Your pencil catapult needs a sturdy base! Once you have the main frame built, you need to make a base for it.

Next, we added three pencils around the bottom connecting to the main unit and creating a square on the bottom. Check out the photo below.

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STEP 3: Add the Sides

Finally, you need to add one pencil diagonally to each side, creating a triangle shape on each side. This will keep your pencil catapult upright and ready to launch.

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Your pencil catapult is complete! What will you launch?

Different materials will launch farther than others. Why is that? Set up an experiment and find out. Since we are using school supplies, we decided on eraser pencil toppers to launch! Quite fun actually!

In addition to simple fun, our catapult dabbles in physics and mathematics too. How does a lever arm work? Is there both potential and kinetic energy?

Whether you use our design or invent your own, this catapult STEM project is the perfect boredom buster. Above all, have fun!

Want more things to do with pencils? Try this leakproof bag experiment or floating rice experiment!

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AWESOME PENCIL CATAPULT FOR KID’S STEM

Click on the image below or on the link for more fun engineering activities for kids.

8 Comments

  1. Thanks for the fabulous instructions. I ran a craft class today for 10 children aged about 9 – 13. They each made a catapult and then we sat around a huge circle (with dropcloths down), and fired painty cotton balls at sheets of paper in the middle. At the end each child took their catapult and their group-created artwork home. The class said it was the BEST class we have done to date (and it was super simple to organize).

  2. Awesome to hear that! Catapults do make for a great take home projects. That sounds like an impressive art project making it truly a STEAM activity! Way to go!

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