12/1/16 03:22PM

Local School Practices Hands-on Learning Using a Trebuchet

Students at Ben Franklin Academy (BFA) found a way to make learning fun earlier this month—use a trebuchet to launch fruit!

Students in kindergarten through eighth grade expanded their knowledge about how simple machines and fulcrums work by using a trebuchet to launch a variety of fruit. The exercise taught students about gravity, trajectory and angles as they competed against other classes to hurl fruit into a target. The event showcased the work of BFA’s after school Fruit Toss Club which launched a variety of fruit this past fall while calculating the weight, angle and mass for precision to hit a target.

A trebuchet is a combination of simple machines that uses a lever, counterweights and the force of gravity to force projectiles from a sling. These siege engines were commonly used in medieval times during battle to hurl missiles, such as large rocks. These days, they are mostly used to demonstrate how machines work, and in Punkin Chunkin competitions where participants launch pumpkins using these compound machines.

BFA’s event was coordinated by volunteers on BFA’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) committee, with the help of Littleton’s own John Heffelfinger who recently returned from the Punkin Chunkin World Championships where he launched a pumpkin almost a half mile! Students loved using John Heffelfinger’s scaled-down replicas of his 50-foot competition trebuchet, commenting, “It is cool to learn how a trebuchet works!”

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