Roman Unit Study - The Punic Wars - Make a Catapult

Week 4: We made a catapult.

Three wars were fought between two ancient superpowers which became known as the Punic Wars. Both Rome and Carthage wanted control of the islands of Sicily, Corsica and Sardinia as well as the Mediterranean Sea. The battles lasted over a span of more than 100 years.

The First Punic War was primarily a sea battle which was won by the Romans. Although the people of Carthage were master ship builders, the Romans managed to get a hold of one of the Carthaginian Quinqueremes. It was reverse engineered and copied many times. Rome won the war.

The most remarkable part of The Second Punic War was the Carthaginian General Hanibal attacking the Roman Empire from the north. He crossed the Alps with 37 elephants and nearly won the war. But when the Roman General Scipio and his army was sent to Carthage to attack while the Carthaginian army was still in Italy, Hanibal rushed home to meet him. Rome won the Second Punic War too.

Restrictions placed on the Carthaginians after the Second Punic War left them unable to defend themselves against enemies. Scipio was sent to enforce the treaties and finished off the city leaving Rome the sole superpower of the Mediterranean Sea.

I created a brief presentation on the Punic Wars to help me remember a few key points to talk about with the kids. Feel free to print them for private use.

This video does a nice job explaining the Punic Wars.

Catapults were one weapon used by the Roman Empire. After the kids had a chance to view the catapult created by Science Sparks, the one created by The Map is Not the Territory Catapult, and the Catapult - Leonardo Da Vinci Kit # EDU-61009 below, they had the chance to create their own design.

The catapults were created with rubber bands, craft sticks, glue and bottle caps. Before they began we pointed out the base and a throwing arm features of a catapult.

Catapult #1

Catapult #2

Catapult #3

Catapult #4

Engineers constantly modify their designs to make improvements. When additional rubber bands were added at the attachment point of the lever arm to the base and a rubber band was added near the bottle cap this catapult functioned much better.

The testing phase was the most fun!

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This post is linked to:
We Made That
True Aim Education 
All Things Beautiful


  1. Very cool! This is right up my son's street!

  2. I just pinned several different catapult design ideas on Pinterest for my oldest son. I'm saving them for our next rain/snow day when we are stuck inside. I suppose I should stock up on supplies as well. Looks like a fun lesson.

  3. Great catapult! My kids will love it when we get there!


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