Ancient Engineering
Ballistic Technologies of Antiquity

Science Project Catapult with Experiment Guide.

Designed especially for school science experiments, this catapult/trebuchet stands 15 inches long, 11 inches wide and 10 inches tall at the axle. The arm is 16 inches long and can hurl a marble up to 30 feet. This machine is designed to be configured and fired in a multitude of ways to test different theories about efficient projectile motion.

Which works better, a sling, or a spoon-type arm? Is a counterweight better than a spring? What about wheels, some people think wheels make a trebuchet better, others disagree. Now you can test all those things, and any combination of them as well, and come to your own conclusions.

Ideal for Science Olympiad, Six Sigma, Design of Experiment (DOE) and other statistical methods courses, this kit even comes with a 23 page booklet including ideas, experiments, tips and tricks you can do with the kit, from basic kid-friendly concepts all the way up to college level material, including how to effectively organize and display (graph) your results.

The experiment guide includes:

  • 13 steps to a successful project
  • The science of projectile motion
  • Definitions of kinetic and potential energy
  • Effects of configuration changes
  • Safety issues
  • Useful equations (basic math)
  • Advanced calculations (trigonometry)
  • Standard deviations
  • Graphing results
  • Five different experiments with questions to answer for each
  • Data Log sheets
    And more!

    The kit includes everything you need to build and operate the kit. The only thing you need to supply is a standard Phillips screwdriver and a few rubber bands. The kit is easily convertible from any configuration to another in a matter of seconds. It's a fantastic learning platform!

    This product is manufactured in Canada.

    The basic counterweight with sling configuration.

    Rubber band (spring) powered with spoon-arm.

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      Price: $49.00
      Our Price: $39.00

      Minimum age: 8
      Availability: out of stock

      Item code: 11002

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    A catapult is any kind of device that shoots or launches a projectile by mechanical means. In England, a catapult is what we call a slingshot in the US. A catapult is also the part of an aircraft carrier that launches airplanes off the deck.

    But for our purposes, a catapult is any of the ancient types of artillery, including Onagers, Scorpions, Trebuchets, Ballistae, Springalds, Coullards, Bricoles Perriers and more.

    But most people tend to think of a catapult as the one-armed torsion machine used by the Romans. This is also known as the Onager or Mangonel.


    The word Mangonel derives from the ancient Greek word "Manganon", literally meaning "engine of war". The Romans called it a Manganum. In pre-medieval French the word Manganum was changed to Manganeau, and the English changed that to Mangonel in the 1300s.

    The history gets a little sketchy in the middle ages, but some historians believe that "mangonel" was shortened to the word "gonnel" about the same time that cannons were being developed, and later still, "gonnel" was shortened to "gun." And still today, in the military a "gun" is strictly a piece of big artillery.


    Onager is originally the name for the wild Asian donkey. This donkey bucks like a bronco if anyone gets too close to it, and it is known to kick stones at people and predators too. So when the Romans needed a name for their one-armed torsion catapult, they called it the Onager!

    The Onager (catapult) has a single arm that is powered by a large skein of twisted ropes. The ropes were usually made from hair or sinew for their elastic properties.


    The word "Trebuchet" is originally French, and meant something like "to fall over or rotate about the middle" as in a see-saw rotating on its axle. It also seems to have meant a big, heavy beam. Today a Trebuchet is any kind of catapult that is powered by a massive counterweight on one end of an arm, and a sling on the other end. This includes Perriers, or "traction" trebuchets which are powered by a mass of people pulling one end of the arm with ropes.


    This is a two-armed torsion device invented by the Greeks. It works similar to a crossbow, but instead of a flexible bow, it uses two stiff arms powered by twisted rope skeins like an Onager. The ballista predates the Onager by several centuries and was used to hurl stones (lithobolos style ballista) and also bolts or darts.

    Obviously, this is where we get the word "ballistic".