Pumpkin chunkin’ to a whole new level

Physics club organizes annual ‘Trebuchet Day’ for the sixth grade fall festival

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Pumpkin chunkin’ to a whole new level

Claudia Huggins, Asst. News Editor

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This year’s annual Trebuchet Day is an event that the Physics Club, run by the high school’s physics teacher Dr. Brian Wargo, has put together every year since 2013 for the middle school students.
This two-day event coincides with the sixth grade fall festival that lasts for a week at the middle school. After the week of activities arranged by the teachers, Trebuchet Day takes place on Thursday and Friday of that week. This year, the event took place on Nov. 3 and Nov. 4.
Often, when someone who is unfamiliar with the school’s Physics Club hears the words Trebuchet Day, it leads to confusion and questions like, “what’s a trebuchet?” The term “trebuchet” (treh-byoo-shay) is defined as “a machine used in medieval siege warfare for hurling large stones or other missiles.” However, the only thing this trebuchet hurls are pumpkins and two liter bottles.
A trebuchet works by using the energy of a falling counterweight to launch the projectile and achieve the highest speed possible. The weights of the counterweight and item being launched also determines the speed at which it will be catapulted. The counterweight must be heavier than the launch item in order to achieve the fastest speed possible.
Every year, the Physics Club builds a massive machine to hurl pumpkins for the enjoyment of the sixth grade class and even to serve a bit of educational value to the kids.
On Nov. 3, the Physics Club ventured down to the middle school to teach the kids how using science can be fun. They accomplished this by using mini trebuchets and let the kids use them themselves. They also gave the kids an opportunity to make predictions about the launch itself.

On the second day, the launch took place engaging the attention of all the middle school students as pumpkins and two liter bottles of soda hurled across the fields behind the high school.
The giant catapult isn’t all that happens on this day: there are also pumpkin-car races and a scarecrow-dressing relay race. These games are mostly put together by the middle school teachers; however, the high school students assist in these activities.
“I liked it, I thought it was fun and it was cool how they got to get the pumpkins and soda launch,” sixth grader Grace Lane said.
She also explained that this day was very educational and taught her a lot.
“I learned that how if the weight was smaller, it would launch farther and if it was heavier, it would launch closer to us,” Lane explained.
She also discussed how exciting it was to be able to launch the trebuchet themselves by using a smaller one that the Physics Club brought to the gym. “They came into the gym and we got to launch it ourselves, and that was really cool.”
Every year, Trebuchet Day has taken place because of the educational purpose it serves and its overall student attendance.