Technology & Warfare

Assignment: students will be in groups of 4. Each group will be responsible for building a "catapult." Each person will also create a webpage that deals with the technology of weapons.

Part 1. Ancient Military Technology: Siege Engines

In this challenge you will construct a working model of a catapult. The catapult is an early technology that developed as a spin-off of the bow and arrow. The term "Katapulto" was created by adding the term "kata," meaning downward, and "pultos," meaning a type of small shield carried by Greek soldiers. These two terms together meant "shield smasher in warfare."

The term has evolved over centuries and languages into the word "catapult" as we use it today. Around 397 B.C., catapults began to be developed on the principle of tension. Tension- powered catapults operate in a manner similar to that of the crossbow. Later catapults were developed upon the principles of torsion. Torsion-powered catapults were powered by stored energy with twisted hair or ropes. The final stage of catapult development was that of the gravity-powered catapult. Some gravity-powered catapults could launch a 500-lb object up to a distance of nearly 1/4 mile! All of these weapons operated upon the dynamics of potential and kinetic energy.

Types of Catapults:

  • Tension-powered-Ballista
  • Torsion-Powered-Onager
  • Gravity-powered-Trebuchet

Here are some links to pages devoted to Ballista, Trebuchets, and Onagers.

Rules & limitations for all "catapults" :

Your team must decide on which "challenge" they will attempt:

Challenges (pick one):

#1-Build a "ballista" that can shoot missiles (bolts) at a target from 15 ft. Your ballista must be able to fire 10 times in 2 minutes. No structural member can exceed 12" except for the "runway," which can be no longer than 24.

#2-Build an "Onager" that can hit a target from 25 ft. Your Onager must be able to fire 10 times in 5 minutes. No structural member can exceed 16".

#3-Build a "Trebuchet" that can hit a "castle wall" from 50 ft. Your Trebuchet must be able to fire 10 times in 10 minutes. No structural member can exceed 24", except for the "throwing arm," which can be no larger than 36".

Part 2. Website

Create a website

You will be assigned one of the "50 weapons that changed warfare."


1st Hour 2nd Hour 3rd Hour 4th HourM 5th Hour 6th Hour


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