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Center for Mathematics and Science Education
The University of Mississippi

The 2021 Catapult Competition will be a virtual event!  See details below!


The Division of Outreach, the School of Engineering, and the CMSE at the University of Mississippi invite Mississippi students and teachers to participate in an exciting science and engineering event!

Details: The Catapult Competition will be a virtual competition this year.  Students will compete as individuals instead of teams. Video submissions will be judged.

Individual Students will choose to compete in the BUILD OPTION or the DESIGN & RESEARCH OPTION for the 2021 Catapult Competition.  Details regarding submissions for each option are outlined in the links provided and the information below.

EXTENDED!! Registration Deadline: April 1, 2021

Deadline for Submissions: Thursday, April 8, 2021 – VIRTUAL EVENT

Grades: 7th – 12th

Cost: $20 per student

Frequently Asked Questions

We are advocates for innovation and challenging the process, so the general answer would be yes. However, if you have any questions, contact us and we can provide clarification and guidance. Always remember that safety is key!

Yes, ball bearing are allowed for the competition.

There are no specific restrictions other than it being an elastomeric tubing with a maximum length of 6ft. This is a key “engineering” decision for the teams. Workout bands are acceptable since they are tubular in shape.

            Tennis balls will be used for the entire competition. 

The maximum height from the ground cannot exceed three feet while the throwing arm is in its rest vertical positions.

Just to clarity, the catapult will be measured in “rest” position with the surgical bands relaxed. Generally speaking, the 3 feet restriction is the maximum possible height the catapult measure.

For example, if you are using a stop bar to control the launch angle, it would be the maximum angle, the catapult at rest, and measured to the top of the launch cup.

This requirement means that the machine will have one end of the surgical tubing connected to the throwing arm and the other end of the surgical tubing connected to the frame – this will provide the rotation.

As long as they are stretched linearly, it is within the rules.


Exercise bands are acceptable as they are probably more accessible to many than surgical tubing. We are specifically looking for tubular elastomeric materials for the potential energy, not necessarily latex or surgical

Absolutely, any commercially available off the shelf parts should be. We are more concerned with it meeting the safety requirements than necessarily what parts you choose. As an engineer, we could not in (good conscience) limit your ability to be creative.

We don’t necessarily count against teams for cost, but it is a consideration for designs that are close during judging.

It may be a good idea to separate out the form and function costs. For example – make a value assessment of the catapult with and without the extra cosmetic parts, meaning one assessment with the fancy paints and props and a separate assessment that is the actual catapult (everything the catapult needs to fully function).

           This is one of the key additions to this years catapult design specs. You cannot stand directly next to your catapult and need to be able to release the catapult from 36 inches “from the                  plane of action”. This is the plane that launch arm rotates in, so basically you need to be able to release standing 36″ from the side of launch arm. Footholds (less than 2ft from the side                of your catapult) can be added from the main body of the catapult and will not count against the maximum 36″ requirement.