Pumpkin chucking: Seventh graders test homemade catapults

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, November 1, 2016

By Rebecca Rider


LANDIS — Friday’s half day meant that seventh graders at Corriher-Lipe Middle School got to see how their inventions would fair during a siege. For the past several weeks the students have been studying the Renaissance in Kendall Shue’s social studies class — including wartime strategies.

And instead of simply reading about the topic, Shue — partnering with seventh-grade science teacher Suzy Williams — decided to let them live it.

“She ran with my crazy idea,” Shue said of Williams.

Students were allowed to work in groups to construct a catapult. They started two weeks ago building prototypes with popsicles and hot glue, testing which designs would send a projectile the farthest.

“We kind of took some ideas from every catapult and combined them into one,” student Sydney LaFollette said.

While they worked to perfect their designs, students were not allowed to use the internet to research catapults, Williams said — every design was entirely student made. After they found a model that worked, Williams had them use math to scale the machines up to something that would eventually stand several feet tall.

Last week, the students spent a few hours putting their designs together. Lowe’s of Kannapolis donated lumber, and members of the community came to the school, donating tools and time, to help the students build.

“So it really became a community effort,” Corriher-Lipe Principal Tonya German said.

On Friday, the seventh graders got to test out their catapults. Students’ designs competed against each other to see which one could fling a pumpkin — donated by Patterson Farms — farthest.

Students and parents camped out on the football field at Corriher-Lipe as Williams and Kendall moved the catapults to the starting line, loaded each orange basket with a pumpkin, and let them fly to cheers from the crowd.

“We’re really glad we have a school that lets us do something like this,” Shue said.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.