Stem creates catapults

By Robert Jamison — The freshman students of the STEM community are currently embarking in the annual catapult contest. All students in the STEM community are organized into groups of five and have to compete for the best overall catapult.

They have a time frame of five weeks to construct the catapult and after the fifth week they launch it on their homemade golf course. The course is located on the high school campus and has five holes. There are four par fours and one par five.

“The catapult golf problem is difficult, but groups who pay attention to detail and follow the engineering design process will do well,” teacher Shawn Kimbrough said.

If students receive a par average, then each person in that group is accepted into the engineer club. The engineer club is for students who excel in the project.

There are five different jobs per group and they include: mechanical engineer, graphic designer, lead designer, historian/safety director and researcher/data collector. Each member has to complete their own individual paperwork for their individual grade.

The mechanical engineers main job is to construct the catapult; the graphic designer designs the sketchup model of the catapult; the lead designer’s role is to lead and supervise the group, along with help design the catapult; the historian/safety director researches the history of catapults and makes sure the group is safe while building their catapult; last but not least, the researcher/data collector researches the success of prior catapults and records the results on launch day.

Students are graded in two parts. The first part is their individual grade which is out of 120 points. They are graded on their role paperwork and participation. The second grade they receive is the group grade which is out of 130 points.

“The project is a lot of hard work, especially constructing the catapult, but it is actually really fun,” STEM student Nick Guardado said.

The students start off by designing the catapult on sketchup and complete their role paperwork. Once their individual paperwork is completed and their design is approved on sketchup, they can construct the actual catapult.

“Building the catapult is the most time consuming part, but you learn so much about the engineering process from it,” STEM student Delaney Curran said.

Kimbrough provides students with 2x4s used for bases but the students are responsible for the rest of their materials. Not only do they build the catapult, but they have to paint them according to the theme of their group. On launch day the group dresses as their theme. Some themes students have this year include: Star Wars, halloween, army, 90’s and space.

Along with the actual golf competition on the golf course, there is a long drive competition. Students line up on the freshman football field and get 10 shots and then take an average. The group with the longest average wins and the members join the engineer club.

[Updated Aug. 12, 2017: This article has been reformatted for consistency.]