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In this dynamic activity, learners build a catapult that launches projectiles, such as marshmallows. Participants then design and build their own models using the steps of the design process to make changes and alter different variables. This activity can be linked to discussions on simple machines and motion (kinetic) energy as well.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 11

Resource Types:
Activity, Model

English, Spanish

Materials List (per group of students)

  • plastic spoons
  • rubber bands
  • duct tape
  • craft sticks
  • brass fasteners
  • mini marshmallows
  • scissors
  • pen
  • toilet paper or paper towel tubes
  • cardboard base (chipboard, shoebox, tissue box, cereal box, milk carton, etc.)
  • target (trash bin, for example)
  • meter stick (optional)


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
      • Mechanical Engineering
      • Transportation Engineering
    • Technology
  • Physical Sciences
    • Energy
      • Potential and Kinetic Energy
      • Work and Machines
    • Motion and Forces
      • Machines
      • Projectile Motion
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Technology and History
    • The Design Process
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking
  • Model Building
  • Toys
  • Transportation


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Uses STEM to solve real-world problems
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Foreign language versions of this resource:

Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • WGBH

Source Collection

  • Fetch! With Ruff Ruffman


  • All rights reserved, WGBH Educational Foundation, 2009

Funding Sources:

  • National Science Foundation, 0813513
  • Public television viewers