1M40.97 - Catapult

Code Number:
Demo Title:
Energy Conservation
Area of Study:
Catapult, Ping Pong Balls, Clamps.

Clamp the catapult to a table.  Place one of the Ping Pong balls into the cup, pull the arm down till it touches the table, and release.  The ball should travel 20 to 25 feet from the catapult.

  • Joseph West, Seth Ross, James Flesher, "The Rolling Release Rulapult", TPT, Vol. 49, # 6, Sept, 2011, p. 353.
  • "Animal Accelerations", TPT, Vol. 44, # 4, April 2006, p. 247.
  • Charles Hartman, "Catapulting the Interest and Success of Physics Students", TPT, Vol. 24, # 9, December 1986, p. 556.
  • Ed McNeil and Norbert Zarumba, "A Mystery Heat(?) Engine", TPT, Vol. 22, # 6, Sept. 1984, p. 400.
  • James Schadewald, "Snowball Catapult!", Popular Mechanics, Feb. 2016, p. 99.
  • William Gurstelle, Mary Gruber, "Teach A Kid DIY, Engineering, and Physics With a Freewheeling Tabletop Catapult!", Popular Mechanics, May/June 2022, p. 62.
  • Gregory Mone, "Human Catapult", Popular Science, June 2013, p. 89.
  • Kelvin Catapult Design P/N 844229, Kelvin School Projects.
  • The Editors of Popular Mechanics, "Making a Toy Catapult", The Boy Mechanic, p. 242.
  • Bobby Mercer, "Clothespin Catapult", Junk Drawer Physics, p. 38.
  • Bobby Mercer, "Door-To-Door Launcher", Junk Drawer Physics, p. 40.
  • Derek Wulff, Catapult, Pathfinders Design and Techology, 2009.

Disclaimer: These demonstrations are provided only for illustrative use by persons affiliated with The University of Iowa and only under the direction of a trained instructor or physicist.  The University of Iowa is not responsible for demonstrations performed by those using their own equipment or who choose to use this reference material for their own purpose.  The demonstrations included here are within the public domain and can be found in materials contained in libraries, bookstores, and through electronic sources.  Performing all or any portion of any of these demonstrations, with or without revisions not depicted here entails inherent risks.  These risks include, without limitation, bodily injury (and possibly death), including risks to health that may be temporary or permanent and that may exacerbate a pre-existing medical condition; and property loss or damage.  Anyone performing any part of these demonstrations, even with revisions, knowingly and voluntarily assumes all risks associated with them.