Friday, December 2, 2011

Flinging Fun & History!

From Alexander the Great, to World War II, to current-day "Punkin Chunkin" contests, catapults have been favorite weapons of war and tools for fun for a loooong time!  Pitsco brings catapults and trebuchet siege machines into your home and classroom as a history lesson, a science lesson, and an all-round fun time!

When the Pitsco box arrived, my then-12-year-old son took over with glee.  He opened the package to find a booklet telling him all about the history, "science, technology, engineering, and math of medieval siege machines."  After an introduction into the history and safety in the use of the catapult, the 32-page booklet covers topics like tension and torsion, mass vs. distance, metric conversion, calculating averages, elasticity, experimenting with rubber bands, gravity and levers, prediction (math), force & motion, and more.  For several experiments, there are charts to fill in for scientific testing.

Okay, so being a boy, and mostly kinesthetic at that, the book was soon pushed aside a bit and my son began to build the thing!  He found the catapult to be easier than the trebuchet.  The instructions and pictures for the trebuchet were harder to understand.  But, with some help from Dad and a bit of perseverance, both weapons of mass destruction were together within hours (spread over a couple of days).  The siege machines really work and my son was soon pelting clay missiles at things and having a grand time.  Soon, we will be going back through the book and filling in the head knowledge more completely.

This kit would be a great accompaniment to your medieval (or other history) lessons.  You end up with sturdy, usable weapons/toys and a sense of accomplishment from self-building.  The lessons are based on the standards of the National Science Teachers Association, International Technology Education Association, and National Council of Teachers of Math.  This kit is aimed at grades 5 through 12.

You can see what the catapults and trebuchets look like here.  But, Pitsco offers many other curricula and products you might enjoy...If you want to encourage a budding engineer, architect, scientist or math whiz, be sure to check out their other offerings on their website store.

The catapult and trebuchet go for $10.95/each and the Siege Machines book is another $3.95.  You do want the book!  If you are hosting a co-op, you can get reduced prices for groups of 10 ($8.39) or 30 ($7.67).  Or you can get a package deal with the catapult, trebuchet and Siege Machines book for $21.95 which includes the weights for flinging!

If you really want to go indepth, Pitsco also carries a more expensive package that includes all of the above, as well as two in depth teachers/curriculum guides that provide another 20+ hours of teaching materials for each kit.

I was provided the Catapult and Trebuchet kits, plus the Siege Machines book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  I honestly think your hands-on, science-types will love them!

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