Middle Ages device teaches modern lessons
Beech Hill Elementary fourth-grader Cody Rogers loves to build stuff, so he was in heaven at Saturday’s “Storm The Citadel” Trebuchet Competition.
Rogers and five classmates, the Beech Hill Bombers, competed in the first-ever “Hoplite” division, for children in grades 3 through 5. “I’m used to building Legos, so I’m sort of good at building,” said Rogers.
As part of The Citadel’s Engineering Week outreach, the college’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Center for Excellence teamed up with Google’s Berkeley Data Center to host the trebuchet contest.
(A Google search reveals that trebuchets were mostly used in the Middle Ages and employ counterweights to launch bombs at targets.)
STEM Director Carolyn Kelley said the contest grew from 15 teams and 150 total participants last year to 36 teams and 350 people this year.
“In a very fun way, it engages kids in learning math and technology and science and engineering. It tricks them into enjoying STEM,” said Kelley.
While the kids had little, desktop-sized trebuchets, the big kids had big ones.
The star of Saturday’s show was Google’s giant “floating arm” trebuchet, a steel contraption that launched milk jugs filled with sand and water with amazing accuracy at a target about 75 yards away.
Eric Wages, of Google’s Berkeley center, said the company wanted to stay involved with the trebuchet contest because of its effect on kids. “Look at all the young folks getting interested in science and math.”