Skip to main content Skip to main menu

The website will be down for maintenance from 4 pm on Saturday, Sept 30 until mid-day on Monday, Oct 2. We appreciate your patience.


Catapult Launch!

An illustration of a classic wooden catapult.

Potential or kinetic? You tell us! Energy is all around us in one form or another. Today, we will discuss both types of energy, and we will build a catapult to demonstrate both potential and kinetic energy.

This activity is pulled from our Virtual ExCEL Camps that happened in the summer of 2020! While these activities are written to fit into the larger lesson plan of the camp themes, you can complete them with your little one at any time.



  • Potential Energy
  • Kinetic Energy

To learn the vocabulary, watch this video.



When the ball is sitting on the catapult, is that potential or kinetic energy?

What about when the ball is launched?


To do the activity, watch this video.



  • 6 popsicle sticks
  • 3 wide rubber bands
  • 1 plastic spoon
  • 1 ball or something to launch (can use tin foil or paper rolled into a ball)



  1. Stack 5 of your popsicle sticks.
  2. Wrap a rubber band around the end of the 5 sticks, about ½ inch from the end.
  3. Put your last popsicle stick in the stack of 5 sticks, in between the fourth and fifth stick in the stack. This should create a T shape.
  4. Wrap a rubber band around the other end of the stack.
  5. Place your plastic spoon at the top of the stack. It should be horizontal to the single stick, but the stack of sticks should be between the spoon and a single stick.
  6. Wrap a rubber band around the end of the spoon and the end of the single popsicle stick.
  7. You have created a catapult.
  8. Put your safety eyewear on.
  9. Test your catapult.



Was your hypothesis correct? When did the ball demonstrate kinetic energy? Catapults have been used throughout history and are also known as trebuchets. The most famous one was called the WarWolf and was used by King Edward I.

Share this article.

Related articles

A collection of APH Press books, including Reading Connections: Strategies for Teaching Students with Visual Impairments, sit on a bookshelf alongside a pink hat with the APH logo on it, a small flag that has the APH logo and the words

Activities for Teaching Reading Skills

Reading is an important skill used in daily living. Yet many children struggle with becoming proficient readers. The APH Press...

The corner of the velcro side of an All-in-One Board decorated with an array of colorful tactile shapes. There is also an assortment of tactile shapes scattered in front of the All-in-One Board.

All About the All-in-One Boards

APH’s All-in-One Boards—large and small—provide two commonplace working surfaces that can accommodate a variety of learning and recreational activities. These...

illustration of two students on different reach and match play mats lined up in two rows

Stop, Drop, Go, Go, Go!

APH’s Reach & Match® Learning Kit helps young children of all abilities develop their motor and social skills, all under...