Launch candy corn in this super fun catapult STEM challenge!
Kids will have a blast with this engineering activity! They’ll also be exploring physics concepts, testing variables, practicing measurement, and more.
Here’s the Challenge:
Use simple supplies to build a catapult that launches a piece of candy corn the farthest.
Side note… do you like to eat candy corn? I think it’s gross, haha! Launching it across the room seems like a great thing to do with candy corn. However, if you like candy corn, we won’t judge. You can always snack while working.
The strength of these catapults will not cause injury to anyone or anything from flying candy corn. I’d consider this safe to do at home or in the classroom. However, you know your kids and whether or not this activity will be a good fit!
I would recommend this activity for age 8 through middle school.
This post was originally published in October 2013 and updated in September 2023.
Set up a Catapult Testing Area!
We used masking tape to make a starting line on the floor. Kids will want to line up their catapults with the tape to make sure that they are always launching from the same place.
You can discuss how the designs of catapults may differ. Some people may need to line up their catapult differently so that the candy corn is the same distance from the line as others.
Supplies Needed for Building Candy Corn Catapults:
- Popsicle sticks
- Craft sticks
- Pencils (can be unsharpened)
- Rubber bands in various sizes
- Plastic spoons
- A plastic cap
- Hot glue gun
How to Build Candy Corn Catapults
We’ll show you how to build some super cool catapults below. However, kids can modify these designs or even create their own catapult design.
Catapult #1: Pencil Catapult
My oldest son designed this catapult completely on his own (10 years old). He built it out of unsharpened pencils, rubber bands, and a plastic spoon.
This is how to get started. Group three pencils. Then wrap a rubber band around each end. Use another rubber band to attach a plastic spoon to the pencils.
Then use three more rubber bands to create a frame. Attaching the final two rubber bands on the frame can be a little tricky! Tip: Twist the rubber bands and hook them around one of the sticking-out pencil ends to secure them.
This catapult shoots well. It’s a little unpredictable, but fun overall. It would also be easy for kids to build on their own.
Catapult #2: Wide Craft Stick Catapult
This is such a simple and easy way to build a catapult! It is definitely the best design for young kids because it’s the easiest to launch.
However, it doesn’t necessarily shoot the farthest.
In order for a projectile to have a long trajectory, it needs to be launched at a 45 degree angle. We stacked up 8 craft sticks for the center of our catapult, and that worked fairly well.
See if kids can figure out a way to change the launch angle of this catapult! (I’d do it by adding craft sticks under the back end of the catapult…)
As I mentioned above, it’s easy to launch. Just push down the top craft stick and then let go!
Catapult #3: Popsicle Stick Catapult
Build this catapult out of popsicle sticks, rubber bands, and a plastic spoon. It is more difficult to put together, but it shoots at a good angle, and it shoots far!
This is how it shoots. The popsicle stick that goes across at the top stops the spoon and ensures that the candy corn is launched at the right angle.
Here’s another view of this catapult.
We used the instructions in this YouTube video to build this catapult. The video explains it much better than I could!
Catapult #4: Siege Catapult
Aidan’s friend built this awesome catapult out of clothes pins, craft sticks, binder clips, rubber bands, duct tape, and a plastic spoon.
The design for this catapult was modified from the siege catapult in Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction: Build Implements of Spitball Warfare. Please note that this book has a lot of fun projects, but it’s not actually geared toward kids. The title is very tongue-in-cheek and refers to cubicle workers building mini weapons out of office supplies.
The siege catapult was a lot of fun!
The Science Behind the Candy Corn Catapult Challenge
Kids are learning so much by building catapults! You can direct their learning by asking some key questions and discussing some science concepts.
- Each of these catapults works by converting elastic potential energy to kinetic energy.
- When the energy changes forms, some energy is lost. A catapult is efficient if it converts most of the potential energy to kinetic energy without losing a bunch. How is energy lost? By the rubber band’s energy going in the wrong direction (for example, if the rubber band gets tangled), or by the catapult scooting around on the floor, etc.
- Add a variable to test! Compare different thicknesses of rubber bands. Test how different launch angles affect how far the candy corn travels.
Be sure to visit these fantastic blog for more fun science activities involving CANDY!