A catapult is a medieval device used to hurl objects into and over castle walls. Catapults were able to hurl 300 pound boulders as far as 1000 feet. The big rocks would eventually break through castle walls so the opposing army could enter the castle. But rocks weren’t the only things medieval armies hurled at castles. Sometimes they loaded their catapult with buckets of hot tar to set fires inside the castle. They also loaded the catapult with stinky garbage or diseased corpses to drive out the people who were in the castle.
THERE ARE THREE TYPES OF CATAPULTS
1. THE BALLISTA
The earliest known catapult was invented in ancient Greece by a man named Dionysius the Elder in 400 BCE. He designed the catapult to operate like a giant crossbow. Instead of using arrows as ammunition, his catapult shot sharpened logs.
2. THE MANGONEL
The mangonel is a standard catapult with a long wooden arm and a bucket for flinging objects. The mangonel could be as large as a truck, so it was built on wheels to make it easier to transport.
3. THE TREBUCHET
This catapult has a long wooden arm with a sling on one end and a counterweight on the other. They were still used during WWI to launch projectiles over trenches.
The catapult craft isn’t a scientifically working catapult. It will give students an idea of what the medieval catapults looked like. After they’ve made their catapults, your students can use them to play launching game. Set up an area where your students can launch their payload of pom-pons or crumpled paper balls into a cardboard box. You can even decorate the box to look like a castle.
To make this craft you’ll need a large popsicle stick, a water bottle lid, a small rubber band and a 5” dowel for each student. You’ll also need a hot glue gun to glue the bottle lid to the popsicle stick. The craft works best when printed on cardstock paper.