The 2021 virtual convention will feature a Table Top Catapult Contest for individual competitors.


Catapults may be built in two sizes:

Large:  base between 5.5″ x 5.5″ and 8.5″ x 8.5″; projectile: 1 Junior Mint
Small: base no larger than 5.5″ x 5.5″; projectile: 1 Skittles candy

Catapults should fit on a tabletop and be free-standing.  Catapults should be sturdy enough to be moved from table to floor without breaking.  Weighted bases are allowed.  The catapult should have a working mechanical arm which can hold the projectile without the user supporting it.  Slingshots and whip arms are not allowed.  The catapult should function without user intervention (i.e. no holding down the base or manually flinging the arm).


You may use any materials and tools within reach and reason, including bandsaws, 3D design software, and laser printers.  If you use a laser printer, the design must be your own and you must assemble the model yourself.

Parents, teachers, and other adults may help purchase materials and supervise construction for safety.  Adults may also assist in model research.  Adults should refrain from building the catapult for the student, directing the student’s work, improving the student’s design, or fixing the catapult.


Contestants may demonstrate their catapult (1) before the convention by appointment with the event chair or (2) at the convention on Sunday morning.  To make an appointment for a pre-convention demonstration, go to

Before demonstrating their catapult, entrants should email the contest chair at with this information:

Subject line:  model type (large or small)

Body: full name
           convention ID # (if known)
           grade in school
           date of appointment to demonstrate catapult or if you will demonstrate it live online at the convention

Please also attach your catapult essay (see below).

To encourage historically accurate and/or inspired design, each contestant or should submit a 1-2 page double spaced (typed or handwritten) paper on the catapult.  This paper should include your name, grade, and delegation, the dimensions of the catapult, the tools and materials you used and historical sources you used to develop the design.  If a catapult design is based on a style of catapult used during a certain period of history or by a certain region of the world, this information should be included in the paper as well.  Catapults must be accompanied by such papers to be accepted to the competition.  Work not need be time consuming and should be grade appropriate (we’re essentially looking to see that students put some thought, and hopefully researched some Roman history while developing a design; we are not treating this as an essay contest).  In the event of a tie (within a grade group) in the distance part of this competition, the papers will be used as a tie breaker.  Papers with thorough documentation and evidence of historical inspiration or accuracy will score higher than those with poor documentation and no research.  If no clear winner can be established, ties will be awarded. 


Students will be asked to demonstrate their model live on video via Zoom (preferably using both a phone and a laptop).  Students must show their setup to the contest chair.  Set up your catapult on the floor in a room with enough space that the projectile will not hit the wall or other objects.  Provide your own ‘ammunition’: Junior Mints for large catapults and Skittles for small catapults.  You should also have a measuring tape marked in feet and inches.  Place the zero mark of the tape at the front of your catapult’s base.

You will be given 5 attempts to launch the projectile.  After you demonstrate your catapult, the contest chair will ask you a series of brief questions about the inspiration and sources of your design, materials and tools, historical connections (if any), and parental, teacher, or other adult involvement (if any).

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