September 19, 2011

why your kids should play with catapults

Easy to make catapult - Brawny Launcher Design

This is a guest post from Anthony Vecchioni from Spaghetti Box Kids.  He has shared a number of simple catapult designs and games to play with catapults at Spaghetti Box Kids.  My sons have loved playing with these catapults. 

I've been designing catapults for about sixteen years—since our son was a pre-schooler. I took an interest in catapults when I noticed how wonderfully they stir a child's imagination. It's almost always a plus when kids stay focused on something and want to explore its uses, limits and possibilities.

My main interest has always been in making catapult designs that are more basic in nature than the trebuchet catapult.
Trebuchet (Image from Wikipedia)

The trebuchet is an ingenious design that was highly effective at launching abundantly heavy objects centuries ago. But as a toy for indoor use it's just plain cumbersome.

The procedure for operating a trebuchet catapult is too involved and the user is deprived of the sensation of tactile interaction right at the critical moment: when the tension is released. The user "watches" it happen instead of "makes" it happen. That’s a world of difference when it comes to a kids' toy. My designs always put the tension build-up and release in the hands of the user—the child. While this would prove highly ineffective for sieging a castle, it's perfectly suited for indoor play for kids.

The best thing about making simple catapults using things like an egg carton, a log of newspaper, or an invisible tape dispenser, is that there is always the motivation to tinker with the design: to improve the arc of trajectory, to make it fling further, straighter, etc. This means your child is digging into the science behind the catapult. . .taking ownership of the mechanical elements of the design. And really, what could be better than that!
Easy to make catapult - Basic design

Link to easy to make catapults: Catapult Designs for Kids

Link to catapult game: Catapult Games for Kids

Have fun catapulting!

Reference:   Wikipedia/ Trebuchet

Anthony Vecchioni runs Spaghetti Box Kids – a parenting site that offers strategies, tips and activities to enhance child learning.  You can read more about Anthony's background and interests on his About page.

1 comment:

the bees house said...

Thank you, I am always looking for science ideas for children. This is great.