Lesson: Medieval Weapons – the Catapult
Subject Area: Social Studies, Language Arts, and Math
Multiple Intelligences: Visual/Spatial, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Logical-Mathematics,
Language Learner Strategies: Hands-on activity, visuals, problem solving, evaluating,
Understand the importance of the tools and weaponry of the times
Design and perform an evaluation on classroom design of one weapon.
The students will recognize Middle Age weaponry in a film clip.
The students will give examples of medieval strategies.
The students will choose the weapon they think was the most effective.
The students will use the blue print to construct the catapult.
The students will choose different elements of the design that will affect its performance.
The students will rate their catapult design by accuracy and distance.
Start the class with a review of the castles defense strategies. If needed, review with
United Steaming Video
Now let’s look at the attackers. How can anyone successfully attack a castle with all of its
Show video clips and/or tape focusing on the weapons used by the knights. Teacher will ask
the students: What weapons did you see that were used?
Teacher will list them. Teacher will post the different weapons.
What were their strategies to overtake a castle? The teacher will list them.
Out of these weapons, which do you think was most effective in getting the men inside the
castles? Why? Students choose the one weapon they believe to be the most effective by
holding up their finger(s) that match their vote, i.e. one finger for sword, two fingers for
battering ram, …
The vote should go to the catapult. (If not, the teacher will explain the benefits of the
catapult). A catapult destroys the walls for easier access – it got your men inside the walls
with little effort.
Focus on the design of a catapult – show PowerPoint presentation showing the different
styles of catapults. Discuss the parts of a catapult. What do we see about the design of the
catapults? Similarities or differences
Answers may vary:
• Some are on wheels while others are not – type of launch pad
• Sling Length - tension
• Weight of Ball or object being thrown
• Counterweight used on some
• Amount of resistance used on the lever
• Distance it can throw the object
• Accuracy of the catapult
Today you are going to test out different catapults that you design.
I am providing you with a basic “blue print” for building a catapult. As a team, you will have
to follow the blue print to build the catapult.
I have some criteria for your project – you have to develop your catapult so that you hit
castles that are far away yet are accurate. Also, as a team you will have to make some
decisions that will affect the accuracy and distance of your catapult. The students have to
make decisions regarding the length of rubber band they wish to use, which will affect
tension, and level length, which will affect distance and accuracy.
Why are these two things important? Class discussion.
Hand the student the basic kits for the catapult
As a team, the group will decide the correct rubber band size and lever size they want to
use. Use of voting cards is used to assist them in making the decision.
Students make the catapult
After their catapult is completed, each group is given a chance to attack the castle using
their catapult launching marshmallows. Each group is evaluated on the catapults distance
and accuracy. If time, each group can have 3 trials. The group with the best distance
and/or accuracy will share their design elements – lever length / rubber band length
Access Video on the Life in the Middle Ages, VHS tape: Secrets of Lost Empires II, Medieval
Siege, Video clips from the Lord of the Rings, pictures of Weapons, used, overhead, markers,
whiteboard, and whiteboard markers, PowerPoint Presentation on Catapults,
Catapult materials – boards, eyehooks, rubber band of different sizes, and lever of different
sizes, fruit cups, tacks, catapult blue print, catapult evaluation. Videos can be found at
Students name weapons and strategies that may have used during the Middle Ages. Student
• Journal Writing: Topics – Write a letter to your king as a nobleman or peasant (even
though you probably could not write)
• Discuss a Coat of Arms Shield. Have the students design a family shield
• Label the parts of a knight’s armor
• Complete the worksheet: “The People of Medieval Society”
• Correctly identify the people and roles in the Feudal System
• Complete word search on key Medieval terms
Enrichment Activity (Social Studies and Technology)
PowerPoint presentation on the components of the Middle Ages. Using their prior knowledge
of PowerPoint, students create a presentation to present to the class.
• People of Medieval Times
• Knight’s armor
• Magna Carta
• or the Black Plague
The presentation will be graded by technology rubric
Websites to use during unit of study:
Castle tour: http://kotn.ntu.ac.uk/castle/castl_fm.html
Ghost Castle: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/features/97/castles/enter.html
Build Your Own Medieval Castle: http://www.yourchildlearns.com/castle.htm
Weapons and Armory
Spear Shield Sword Mace
Helmut Crossbow Bow and Battle Ax
Battering Catapult Dagger Body Armor
were used for horseback jousting. Others were used for
land or water combat.
Catapult Blue Print
• 1 base with tension bar and stop bar
• 2 rubber bands (you group has to decide which ones)
• Lever bar with cup (your group has to decide the length)
• 2 cup hooks for the side of the lever bar
• 4 eyehooks
• 1 dowel
• Voting Cards
1. Twist one eye hook on each side of the tension bar into the pre-
drilled holes (see diagram A)
2. Using your voting cards: decide which level length your group will
use for your catapult – short or long
3. On the base, twist in the eyehooks where the level will be attached
(See diagram B)
4. Using your voting cards: decide which length of rubber band your
group will use for your catapult – small or large
5. Using your voting cards: decide where to place the cup hooks in
the lever bar (see diagram C) – twist cup hooks in the location that
received the majority vote.
6. Attach the lever bar to the catapult by sliding the dowel through
the eyehooks and lever bar supports (see diagram D)
7. Attach the rubber bands to each side of the catapult by looping it
around the eyehook on the tension bar and around the cup hook
on the lever bar.
Trial 1 Trial 2 Trial 3
Group Distance Accuracy Distance Accuracy Distance Accuracy
Distance: How far did it throw the marshmallow?
Accuracy: How close did it get to the castle?
HyperStudio/Powerpoint Appearance and Content :
Teacher Name: A Steutermann
Student Name: ________________________________________
CATEGORY 4 3 2 1
Content - Accuracy All content throughout the Most of the content is accurate The content is generally Content is typically confusing or
presentation is accurate. There but there is one piece of accurate, but one piece of contains more than one factual
are no factual errors. information that might be information is clearly flawed or error.
Sequencing of Information is organized in a Most information is organized in Some information is logically There is no clear plan for the
Information clear, logical way. It is easy to a clear, logical way. One card or sequenced. An occassional organization of information.
anticipate the type of material item of information seems out of card or item of information
that might be on the next card. place. seems out of place.
Use of Graphics All graphics are attractive (size A few graphics are not attractive All graphics are attractive but a Several graphics are
and colors) and support the but all support the few do not seem to support the unattractive AND detract from
theme/content of the theme/content of the theme/content of the the content of the presentation.
presentation. presentation. presentation.
Originality Presentation shows Presentation shows some Presentation shows an attempt Presentation is a rehash of
considerable originality and originality and inventiveness. at originality and inventiveness other people's ideas and/or
inventiveness. The content and The content and ideas are on 1-2 cards. graphics and shows very little
ideas are presented in a unique presented in an interesting way. attempt at original thought.
and interesting way.
Spelling and Grammar Presentation has no Presentation has 1-2 Presentation has 1-2 Presentation has more than 2
misspellings or grammatical misspellings, but no grammatical errors but no grammatical and/or spelling
errors. grammatical errors. misspellings. errors.