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Mousetrap Marshmallow Catapult
Get ready to launch marshmallows across the room with the power of a
mousetrap! Print out our
Catapult instruction sheet with step-by-step pictures.
Note: Mousetraps are dangerous! If one snaps back on your hand it could break
a finger. This project requires adult permission and supervision.
What to do:
- With a pair of pliers, carefully remove any metal teeth or bait
platforms from the trap. Also take out any staples that are not connected to
- Carefully pull back the snapper arm until it reaches the other end of
the trap, and hold it down firmly. Have a helper wrap the
strong rubber band
around the end of the snapper until it holds it down to the base of the
trap, preventing the trap from springing.
- Use a loop of duct tape to attach one of the erasers to the base of the
trap so its long side is right next to the fulcrum (the spring in the middle of the
- Tape the second eraser on top of the first one, letting it hang over the
fulcrum slightly. Secure both erasers to the base with duct tape, then carefully remove the rubber band and slowly let the snapper arm move up until it rests against the erasers.
- Tape one of the tongue depressors horizontally along the top of the
snapper arm. Place the second tongue depressor perpendicular over the first
and tape it so it extends vertically above the snapper arm.
- Tape the spoon to the second stick. Make sure that the arm of the
catapult will hold. You may need to reinforce it with more duct tape.
- To shoot the catapult, take any small soft object, such as a marshmallow,
and then pull back the arm, put the object in the spoon, and let go!
Always be sure to hold down the base of the catapult when you release the
arm so the structure doesn't topple over.
Newton's first law of motion states that objects in motion tend to remain in
motion, unless acted on by an outside force. When you released the catapult,
both the lever arm and the "ammunition" moved forward with energy from the
spring. When the lever arm hit the erasers, it came to a sudden stop. The
marshmallow, however, remained in motion until it hit something else or until
the force of gravity overcame its motion and brought it to the ground. The same
principle applies to driving in a car - both you and the car are moving
together, but if the car comes to a sudden stop (as in a collision), your body
will keep moving forward. This is why you should always wear a seatbelt!
This project is adapted from
hands-on science lessons.