When it comes to working with craft sticks, my kids want to make projects that are “cool”. So what does that mean? Apparently these launchers count as extra cool! This is a great engineering and crafting challenge for kids 7 years old and up. The result is part crossbow, part slingshot, all fun!
Check out what we made with craft sticks!
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This was such a fun project and the best part is that it doesn’t take long to make and the supplies are very inexpensive. Once the kids have completed their builds they will have so much fun launching Q-Tips all over the place.
We call it – THE LAUNCHER
So what exactly is it? Well it is a special creation from the imaginations of fantasy lovers and game players (aka The STEAM Powered Family!). We wanted to make something that would be easy to build, but had BIG play value. The result was this DIY toy that is part crossbow, part slingshot.
Check out this video on how to make a Craft Stick Launcher
This video provides a complete visual tutorial for making this project.
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SUPPLIES AND TOOLS
4 Craft Sticks (also known as Popsicle Sticks)
1 Rubber Bands (make sure it has a bit of width to it)
Want a crossbow inspired engineering kit? Checkout the Vex Robotics Crossfire. We had so much fun building the Crossfire it inspired this creation!
DIRECTIONS FOR BUILDING A POPSICLE STICK LAUNCHER
Step 1 – Paint two of the craft sticks one colour, and two another colour. You will be gluing them together so that is why we painted ours to have two matching, but really they don’t need to match. Just paint them however you want!
Step 2 – Using a glue gun, glue two popsicle sticks together. Then glue the other two together. We are doing this for two reasons. First, it makes the structure stronger. Second, the end of the handle becomes an anchor point for the rubber band while loading the Launcher.
Step 3 – Choose which is going to be the handle and which is going to be the crossbar. Place the crossbar about 1/4 of the way from the top of the handle and glue in place.
Step 4 – Make sure your crossbar is on the bottom (so you have the smooth surface of the handle on top). Now glue your buttons on the crossbar about 2 cm in from the ends.
Step 5 – Cut your straw about 6 – 8 cm in length should work.
Step 6 – Glue the piece of straw on top of the handle so it is above the crossbar near the front. Let the glue set for a few minutes.
Step 7 – Wrap the rubber band around the end of the crossbar on one side, then repeat on the other side. Pull the long side of the rubber band and anchor it on the end of the handle. Your Launcher is now ready for action!
USING THE CRAFT STICK LAUNCHER
To use the launcher place a Q-Tip cotton swab in the end of the straw. Carefully lift the rubber band off the end of the handle and pinch the Q-Tip and elastic between your index finger and thumb. Pull back until the Q-Tip end is just inside the straw. Make sure your other fingers are out of the way, and then LET GO!
Pro Tip! Challenge your kids to design their launchers with various lengths of straws. The longer straws will allow great pull on the rubber band, resulting in launches covering greater distances, but they also require more finger strength. Test it out to find the optimal design for the best launches!
These little launchers are so much fun! I even caught my husband launching a bunch of these in the house. Kids of all ages will enjoy this STEAM challenge.
Pro Tip! The cotton swabs may get a little fuzzy which can cause friction and cause issues during launching. If this happens, you have two options. Roll the ends of the Q-Tip between slightly moistened fingers to help tighten up the fibers. Or you can wrap a little clear tape around the ends of the Q-Tip to keep things neat and moving smoothly through the straw, just make sure it is really smooth so the tape doesn’t cause friction.