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Victoria Wilson
11/11/15

Projectile Motion: Catapults


Objective: This projects objective was to shoot a marshmallow 5 meters. It also had to be
launched at the same height as the target. The goal was to hit perfectly at the 5 meter for total
points of 4.
History of the Catapult: Catapults have been used by the Greeks, Romans, and Chinese in
various siege warfare tactics since 399 B.C. Catapults eventually advanced into England in
which they where used to launch missiles not only at soldiers but also to destroy city walls.
There are three main catapults used the Trebuchet, the Mangonel, and the Ballista. Many
catapults have been used in history.
My Design: The design I chose was similar to a Mangonel. I picked this design, because I
believed that it would shoot the farthest but land right on my target. I thought that it was the best
way to complete my objective. It is made by a bucket being attached to a beam, pulled back with
either a rope or for some of bungee, and then let go launching the ammunition or in my case a
marshmallow.
Physics in a Catapult: The concepts in physics of the operation of a catapult is basically just
stored energy used to throw a projectile. The primary energy storage mechanisms are tension,
torsion, and gravity. The equations that are used to calculate the operations:
VxO =Distance/Time
Vy= VyO+ ayT
Vy= 0
Ay= -9.8 m/s^2
T= 1/2 of time for a particular trial.
Vo= squared(VyO^2+VxO^2)
These equations in Physics are important for figuring out the velocity. You must have three of
the variables in order to figure out the fifth one.
The Materials I used where:
Metal hinges
Screws
Wood Planks
Bungee Cord
C Hooks
Stickers (for decoration)

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Picture of my Catapult:

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Distance

Time

VxO

VyO

Vo

3.35 m

0.27 s

12.40 m/s

1.32 m/s

12.47 m/s

3.49 m

0.28 s

12.46 m/s

1.37 m/s

12.53 m/s

4.0 m

0.21 s

19.04 m/s

1.03 m/s

19.06 m/s

Average Velocity= 14.68 m/s


Initial Velocity: Initial Velocity of the projectile was determined by using the equation, Initial
Velocity= distance/time. I toke the measurement of how far my projectile launched the
marshmallow and divided it by the time it toke until landing.
Conclusion:
My project worked as planned. My goal was accomplished. The catapult worked to the
standard, but when I launched it, it toke more of a down ward motion. Instead of arcing and
landing on the table, it fired across and landed at the four point mark on the floor. From this
project I learned that the variables all need to stay the same. My project when tested at home
worked properly hitting the target perfectly. At school, because of the elevation difference it toke
a drop and landed below the table and on the ground. Two real-life examples of a projectile,
would be a gun being fired, and also rockets and missiles. These must be carefully placed
because they could inflict damage on both property and people.

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Web-Sites Used:
https://sites.google.com/site/physicsofcatapults/home/history-of-catapults
www.real-world-physics-problems.com/catapult-physics.htm