Nothing says Thanksgiving like family, food, and engineering a candy-launching device for post-dinner excitement. Perk up your holiday kids’ table with a centerpiece offering up the tools to make craft stick catapults. Watch the fun fly!

Thanksgiving Catapults

You will need:

  • Large craft sticks
  • Bottle tops and glue
  • Lots of rubber bands
  • Launching materials (candy, marshmallows, craft pom poms, cotton balls, etc.)

Allowing yourself plenty of drying time, glue several bottle tops to the end of a handful of craft sticks. This is will be the “bucket” at the catapult’s end so the kids’ items don’t slide down the stick before launch.

Thanksgiving Catapults

The first step in making your catapults is to stack 12 sticks together and tie each end (fairly snug) with a rubber band.

Thanksgiving Catapults

Next, gently slide one stick in between stick 1 and 2 on the bottom. Slide another stick with the glued bucket on top, between stick 11 and 12.

Thanksgiving Catapults Thanksgiving Catapults

With the sticks in a perfect cross-shape, pinch the non-bucket end together and loosely wrap another rubber band around it. Make sure it is not too tight. Now slide your stack of stick toward this end. This acts as the catapult’s simple counter-weight.

Thanksgiving Catapults Thanksgiving Catapults

You are now ready for launch. Have the children place one hand on the lower stick to steady the catapult, while pulling back the launching arm with the other.

Thanksgiving Catapults Thanksgiving Catapults

Kids will laugh and enjoy themselves, but they are learning about mass, force, energy, and motion all at once.

  • Mass: Do the lighter or heavier items fly higher? Farther?
  • Force: The harder the child pulls the stick down toward the table, the more force is “stored” in the stick and will be converted into…
  • Energy: This is what will make the candy launch, but only because of the principle of…
  • Motion: The best part! Up goes the candy, but how high and far is directly related to the physics above.

Thanksgiving Catapults

Happy Thanksgiving!