Start of main content
Age Range: 11-14
Duration: 30-59 mins
  • D&T
  • Engineering
  • Physics

Build a popsicle stick catapult

Learning about levers by making a catapult

Develop an understanding of levers and build a popsicle stick catapult from craft sticks with this free STEM lesson plan.

This is an exciting and engaging way to learn about physics and engineering. With the right materials, you can build a simple yet effective homemade catapult capable of launching chocolate eggs up into the air!

This lesson plan is perfect for KS3 students and can be used as a fun one-off main activity to introduce levers.

Activity: Build a popsicle stick catapult

This is one of a set of resources designed to allow learners to use Easter themes to develop their knowledge and skills in Design & Technology, Mathematics and Science. This resource involves making a simple catapult which works as a lever to propel a chocolate or mini egg.

Use our free activity sheet to make your own DIY catapult and then compete with your friends to see whose catapult fires the chocolate mini egg the furthest!

This activity will take approximately 50 – 70 minutes to complete.

Tools/resources required

  • Craft sticks (at least 7 per learner)
  • Small elastic bands (at least 7 per learner, plus spares)
  • A teaspoon (metal or plastic)
  • Chocolate mini eggs (or similar)

For the extension activity:

  • Pencils (or similar, such as dowel rods)
  • Elastic bands

The engineering context

Levers are one of the simplest machines and are used in many applications. These include pliers, scissors, brake pedals and wheels and axles. The principles of levers are also used in many applications when designing sports equipment, such as cricket bats, golf clubs and hockey sticks.

Catapults and engineers

The word ‘engineer’ was originally used to describe people responsible for building siege weapons in ancient times. When laying siege to towns and castles, it was common practice for skilled specialists to build catapults in an attempt to break down defences and demoralise the defenders. One particular type of catapult was the ‘onager’ – this was named after a type of wild donkey that was well-known for having a vicious kick. The specialists who constructed this were purportedly called ‘onager-neers’ which eventually became ‘engineers’.

Most catapult designs are based upon the principles of levers. This resource introduces the concept of levers, the three classes of levers and examples of typical applications.

Suggested learning outcomes

After completing this Easter themed engineering resource students will be able to describe the three classes of lever and they will be able to make a structure.

Download the free Build a popsicle stick catapult activity sheet below!

All activity sheets and supporting resources are free to download, and all the documents are fully editable, so you can tailor them to your students’ and your schools’ needs.
The activity sheet includes teacher notes, guidance, useful web links, and links (where appropriate) to the national curriculum in each of the four devolved UK nations; England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Families can download the family activity which includes all you need to complete this activity at home.

Please share your classroom learning highlights with us @IETeducation.

Related resources