To build a catapult, students first need to be familiar with a variety of materials and their properties as well as understand some physics principles. An effective design will reflect understanding of both. The design shown here requires few materials and tools. There are many designs available on the web, but a true technology engineering experience involves students creating their own design. In technology engineering beginning students frequently make diagrams of their designs. Since drawing is sometimes difficult for a student with a visual impairment, adaptive materials such as Wikkistix™ can be used to create a drawing of the design.
Creation of designs can be done tactually, and differences in design can be examined both tactually and visually. Students in their construction will also develop understanding of creating a prototype, testing it out, and redesigning. The design illustrated was created by one of our students for a science fair. The design propelled the pompom upwards to a height of almost 2 feet but did not propel the pompom forward towards the target. The design and materials for each student would vary. It is important to stress only large soft marshmallows or other soft objects are propelled, and that safety goggles be worn at all times.
Students may be interested in learning about the long history of catapults during battles.