Plotting and graphing don’t sound like much fun. Building a trebuchet – that’s a different story.
Students in Joe Miller’s math class at Carver Magnet School recently built model trebuchets – medieval siege engines that used a raised counterweight to throw a projectile – to provide some context for the lessons they’re learning in class. The trebuchet project also ties into a study of “The Lord of the Rings” series that Carver students are pursuing this year.
Miller said the trebuchet project helps students with a number of concepts taught in his class, including lessons about force and kinetic energy, data tracking, linear equations and distance-time graphs.
“It’s problem solving skills – what to do when things go wrong – gathering and plotting data, regression analysis,” Miller said. “It’s slightly more interesting than just talking about it in class.”
Miller said the trebuchet project was useful in providing a real-world application for math concepts. Being able to tie the project to studies of “The Lord of the Rings” was helpful in providing links between various subjects and encouraging student interest. Miller said students have done a number of “Lord of the Rings” projects, including studies about food, clothing and a play.
Kollar Varner, 14, said he liked the independence students had in working on the trebuchet project.
“I liked it because it was being creative instead of being so rigid,” he said. “You were left to your own devices.”
Caitlin Johnson, 14, was adept at getting her model trebuchet to launch dice used as their projectiles Thursday. Johnson said she enjoyed the project.
“It’s pretty cool to be able to interpret into normal life something from a movie,” she said. “It gives us a new experience.”