Catapults {A Five Day Unit Study}

| | |

After an inspiring two days of TV fun with the World Champion Punkin Chunkin on the Science Channel, my kids and I decided it might be fun to learn more about the machines these teams used to hurl their orange fruits- with the idea that we’d hurl something of our own, of course.  

So, a rather impromptu unit on the physics and history of siege warfare machines was born!

Much of the design of this unit goes along with my “Science as Investigation” approach. The ideas that follow came out of a desire to dive right in and explore. Sometimes you don’t need the perfect curriculum or the perfect materials. You just need a question to be answered or something you want to figure out.

This unit will attempt to answer the question: What were these machines and how were they used? Who used them? How do they work? Can we build one? And how will it perform?
Day 1’s Topic?
Types of Siege Machines: 
Catapults– research the different kinds of catapults and how they operated. When and how were they used? (I was able to find torsion and Roman models in my brief search)
Trebuchets– research the various models of trebuchets including the modern, “fixed axel” trebuchet which drops the counterweight straight down using the potential more efficiently. Trebuchets differ from catapults because they use a counterweight to throw the arm and hurl the object.
Without much preparation on your part, just send the kids off to see what they can find out. No special notebook pages necessary! Have them jot down their list on a sheet of notebook paper and make some sketches. 
Join me tomorrow and we’ll find out more about these machines and how we’ll put that information to work later in the week.


Join the iHN in their five day Hopscotch Series to see what other members are sharing this week!

Similar Posts


  1. All the boys in our family made a trebuchet this summer that throws tennis balls for the dogs. It was one of the best lessons ever in physics.Can't wait to see your unit!

Comments are closed.