Swinging back around this March 27 to Lewis and Clark is the 8th annual trebuchet competition. Teams of high school students from the local area come together to show off their mastery of math and medieval weaponry.
“A trebuchet is a battle machine used in the middle ages to throw heavy payloads at enemies. The payload could be thrown a far distance and do considerable damage, either by smashing down walls or striking the enemy while inside their stronghold,” according to real-world-physics-problems.com.
The basic setup of this weapon is a frame connected to an arm, with a slinged pouch possessing weight on one end, and a counter weight on the other to achieve the swinging motion. Materials used for the competing trebuchets include wood, PVC pipe and metal.
Trebuchets created by the students are made under the supervision of a sponsor with the assistance of computer-aided design (CAD) programs and trebuchet simulations.
This year, 40 teams from 11 different surrounding high schools make up the pool of participants, which is a little less than last year, according to L&C mathematics professor Kevin Bodden.
Competitors check in at L&C’s River Bend Arena at 8 a.m. and the official competition kicks off an hour later.
The competition gives competing students the opportunity to display their critical thinking skills, while testing their second hand knowledge from various math and science courses they have taken.
“The annual trebuchet contest is a great opportunity for high school students to apply lessons learned in physics and math to a hands-on application. In addition, the event fosters team building, exploration, and problem solving. These are critical skills for those interested in pursuing jobs in an engineering field,” Bodden said.
A great deal of trigonometry, physics, and algebra is demonstrated when constructing the trebuchet and allowing for the best results.
The motion of the trebuchet is comparable to that of a golf swing, focusing on the force and angular trajectory of the load, according to real-world-physics-problems.com
While this event is built around education through mathematics, the teams experienced an enjoyable time.
“This is my first year with the trebuchet team. It’s been a lot of fun. Just the competitiveness and the ability to create something yourself makes it a great time,”Cameron Foust, East Alton-Wood River junior said.
For more information about the trebuchet competition or the mathematics behind it, contact Bodden at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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