Students launch pumpkin chuckin’ event (VIDEO)


Posted by Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 8:22 pm on Thursday, November 01 2012

Montcalm Area Career Center Engineering Instructor Art Ward, right, watches his students’ trebuchet, which they built for a class project, launch a pumpkin into the air Wednesday as student Austin Blanks, 17, pulls the rip-cord. – Daily News/Cory Smith

SIDNEY — Students decided to put what they learned in the classroom to the test by creating a plan to chuck pumpkins on Wednesday.

Students from the Montcalm Area Career Center (MACC) created a trebuchet to launch pumpkins at a target — a car — by using algebra and more.

“It’s been all the buzz here,” said engineering instructor Art Ward.

The idea came after the engineering class made tiny catapults that launched marshmallows as an assignment. Students suggested creating a larger version and using what they had learned in class to determine a target and calculate how to hit that target.

Wards said at first he thought the idea would never be allowed to happen, however, once he talked to other instructors, a plan was put into place within 30 minutes.

“I was a little nervous at first,” Ward said, “But within 30 minutes, a buzz happened throughout the school.”

Other classes such as construction and welding classes got involved to created Wednesday’s event — “pumpkin chuckin.’”

The whole process took about two weeks to do, Ward said.

The engineering students designed the trebuchet and created many sheets of algebraic formulas to develop predictions on how much weight was needed for how far the pumpkins needed to go.

Lakeview junior Peter Betten, 17, developed the design used to create the trebuchet.

Betten said he used suggestion from the other students and Ward to come up with a realistic design.

“It was a lot of abstract learning,” Betten said of the project’s process.

After the engineering class developed the design on paper, it was handed over to the construction and welding classes to create the structure.

Once it was complete, the students worked through trial and error with their formulas to make the trebuchet hit its target.

Montcalm Area Career Center Engineering Instructor Art Ward and his students, Lakeview junior Peter Betten, 17, Vestaburg junior Christopher Powelson, 16, Vestaburg junor Austin Blanks, 17, and Central Montcalm senior Timothy Moravik, 17, ready their trebuchet that the students built for a class project for launch Wednesday at the Montcalm Area Career Center in Sidney. – Daily News/Cory Smith

“The kids did everything,” Ward said. “We only had veto power (to make sure the project stayed safe).”

MACC students gathered in the back parking lot of the career center Wednesday afternoon to see if the project worked.

The project was successful as pumpkins were launched and successfully landed on or close to the car.

“Very impressive way to apply your learning,” said Scott Koenigsknecht, Montcalm Area Intermedia School District superintendent, to the students. “Good job and very well done.”

The students were impressed with what they had to created.

“Satisfaction,” Bretten said of what he felt after the event.

Although the students were aiming for 100 percent accuracy of hitting the target, Ward and the students said the wind played a huge factor in Wednesday’s event as they set things up according to the amount of wind the area had received in previous days.

A couple of the pumpkins were filled with odd things, such as ketchup, to add more of an effect for when they hit the target.


“It was definitely worth it,” said Vestaburg junior Christopher Powelson, 16, who helped with the project. “I’m glad the students got to come out.”

Ward said the students really got excited for this project during the learning process.

One day while the students were adjusting algebra formulas, Ward said the students were not even thinking about it as a school assignment with learning involved.

“They said ‘We aren’t doing math, we are building a trebuchet,’” Ward said.

Many students, Ward said, do not realize events like this are what engineers do. He hopes events like this one get more students engaged in engineering.

“It’s exciting the students did this,” he said. “This is what we do. (MACC) is where students come to shine.”

MACC’s morning students will get to participate in the “pumpkin chuckin’” event this morning to see how the project comes together.

“It was hard work, but we learned a bunch,” Powelson said.

Montcalm Area Career Center Engineering Instructor Art Ward and his students, Lakeview junior Peter Betten, 17, Vestaburg junior Christopher Powelson, 16, Vestaburg junior Austin Blanks, 17, and Central Montcalm senior Timothy Moravik, 17, ready their trebuchet that the students built for a class project for launch Wednesday at the Montcalm Area Career Center in Sidney. – Daily News/Cory Smith

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