When I first set off to build an outdoor classroom in our backyard, I asked my son what he would like to see, what he would find most useful. Among a few other reasonable requests, LittleMan asked if we could build a catapult.
His original idea called for a rather large amount of space and quite a few supplies, but I managed to talk him down to a more reasonable sized model.
Supplies for this project are a concrete block which we salvaged for free from a scrap pile, a bungee cord, 6 short pieces of PVC pipe, some duct tape, a zip tie, and a large spoon from Dollar Tree.
First assemble the PVC pipes in a pyramid of sorts and duct tape them together.
For stability, I like to wrap the duct tape around a single pipe, then add one more and wrap the duct tape around again, then add one more and wrap the duct tape around again, and so on and so forth until the entire 6 pipes are connected.
Then place the pyramid of PVC pipes on top of the concrete block
Now wrap the bungee cord around the concrete block.
Our block had three holes in it so we found the middle of the bungee cord and positioned it over the middle hole, threaded the two ends of the bungee cord through the two end holes, then wrapped the cords up around the top of the concrete block, around the top of the PVC pipe pyramid, hooking them in under the middle portion of the bungee cord.
Finally we add the spoon.
LittleMan and I played around with this part of the assembly quite a bit. Originally we envisioned the handle being tucked under the middle of the bungee cord, and while this made for excellent distance, the spoon would essentially go flying too.
In the end we found that simply zip tying the end of the handle of the spoon to the middle of the bungee cord was sufficient to keep the spoon intact while still getting a decent amount of accuracy and distance in catapulting things.
It is worth noting that when choosing a spoon to make this, you’ll want something with a good, firm plastic. It should be hard enough that it doesn’t bend a lot on its own. You’ll also want to avoid wood and metal as they just won’t work quite as well and the risk of bending and/or breaking the spoon is greater with those materials.
The end result is a catapult so user-friendly that even three year old SunnyGirl was able to hit an (admittedly large) target using it.