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Give your students an understanding of the power of compound machines with the construction of the most powerful siege machine before the invention of gunpowder... the trebuchet! Build a trebuchet and test how different variables determine flight distance.

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Give your students an understanding of the power of compound machines with the construction of the most powerful siege machine before the invention of gunpowder... the trebuchet! A full-size trebuchet is capable of launching projectiles of 90 kilograms a distance of 300 meters by combining the mechanical advantage of a lever with that of a sling. With this smaller version, students master the variables that must be optimized in order to breach enemy walls with this engaging STEM Design Challenge! Students make use of an easily adjustable base to test how different heights, arm lengths, counterweights and release angles determine the flight distance of the projectile. A highlight for any physics class!

Complete for 30 students working in groups of 3.

Correlation to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Science & Engineering Practices

Asking questions and defining problems
Developing and using models
Planning and carrying out investigations
Constructing explanations and designing solutions
Obtaining, evaluation, and communicating information

Disciplinary Core Ideas

MS-ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems
MS-ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution
HS-ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions

Crosscutting Concepts

Structure and function
Systems and system models
Cause and effect

Performance Expectations

MS-ETS1-2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
MS-ETS1-3. Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
MS-ETS1-4. Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.
HS-ETS1-2. Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.