Not many folks know this, but most of the great children’s programming offered throughout the library district involves a laborious planning process.

It’s derived from many months of staff getting together, brainstorming, working out the details, coming up with a plan — then a supply list — testing out their ideas in real time, writing up instructions for the branch programmers to follow, ordering supplies and separating them out — for sometimes up to 15 branches — then sending them off through our courier service.

Whew! There’s a lot of moving parts to this type of programming, and besides the initial planning committee, it also involves multiple layers from other library departments: marketing, finance, technical services. Gosh, even I’m not sure of all the parties that get involved before the program is finally launched. That is a big job.

Now, take that whole process and multiply it by four. That’s right, four times a year it repeats itself. The library divides its programming schedule into four quarters. Just like the seasons, we have fall, winter, spring, and summer. Each of these quarters has its own programming committees. There is one for children, teens, and adults. Each committee is tasked to produce quality programming that meets the strategic goals of the library and is still engaging and of interest to the public. For children, fun also needs to play a significant role, because as we all know, children learn through playing.

In view of this, I thought I’d share one of the great upcoming programs for our spring quarter. The Trebuchet vs Catapult is a STEM program that will provide an opportunity for critical thinking, problem solving and beginning engineering skills. It’s also fun with physics! For this post I’m going to focus on creating a simple catapult with a few basic supplies. This is absolutely something you can do at home and, with a little imagination, will lead to all sorts of creative play.

The first thing you need to do is gather your supplies. You will need:

  • 10 Popsicle sticks/tongue depressors (larger/wider is better than a classic skinny popsicle stick) (The Dollar Tree often sells these)
  • Rubber Bands (at least 5)
  • Bottle cap
  • Glue

Once you have your supplies together, the rest is easy.

  1. Make a stack of 6 popsicle sticks and secure both ends by wrapping a rubber band around each end

  1. Make a stack of 4 popsicle sticks and secure only one end by wrapping a rubber band around it

  1. Slide your stack of 6 sticks under the first stick of your 4-stick stack

  1. Secure the two stacks together using 2 rubber bands in an “X” formation.

  1. Keeping in mind the size of your cap, put a dot of glue about a ½ inch or so down from the end of the popsicle stick that is raised up. You want to leave enough space at the end of the stick so  a finger can be used to deploy the catapult.

  1. Stick the bottle cap on the dot of glue and allow it to dry. Again: remember to leave room at the end for the tip of a finger.
  2. Once the glue has dried, you can launch things by placing them in the bottle cap, pressing down on the top popsicle stick and letting go to send it flying!

Now you may be wondering: if this is something I can do at home, why should I bother going to the library?

Well, let me tell you! Participating in a library program is an opportunity for your child to gain socialization skills, make friends, and feel like they are part of the community.

In my experience, when kids get together for a program like this, they are wonderful at working together and problem solving. It’s a chance to collaborate on ideas and experimentation. For instance, remember those acrylic sneeze guards during the COVID-19 pandemic? The Ashland children’s team is going to re-purpose one for a splatter art experiment. The big question will be “What will work better dipped in washable paint: pompoms, cotton balls, or small sponges?” Now doesn’t that sound like fun?

There are more than 10 branches offering the Trebuchet vs Catapult program. Each will have their own unique spin on what the program will look like, so no harm in checking out more than one! Make sure to visit the library events calendar at to find out when and where the program will be held, and to check out all the other awesome programs that are being offered.

I guarantee that no matter what your age, there is something for everyone!