Physics students build siege weapons at Merced College


This is calculus-based physics. It’s the first-semester physics. It’s a mechanics class, so they’re
learning about forces, and energy, and levers, and momentum,
and projectile motion. So this is their final project. And they are encouraged to work in groups,
if they want to. They are creating
period-like siege weapons. So trebuchets, catapults,
things like that. And the goal is launch a basketball about
15 meters, and that gets them an A. And then after that,
we have a competition for distance, and right now we’re at about 44 meters for
the longest one. We’ve got somebody at 40, and what they’re
doing is taking all the stuff that they have learned through the semester,
kind of putting it together, designing, executing, and hopefully making the grade.>>[SOUND] So our design, we actually put it together over
the course of a couple of weeks. We did the math for it, it’s a trebuchet. And so it’s designed to go without
an actual release mechanism, which means there’s no springs, it’s all just the wood
and weights holding it up together to be able to launch the basketball at
least 15 meters, which is about 50 feet. It worked really well, and ours is
actually called the Duct Tape Devil, because honestly, it’s put together
mostly with duct tape and wood. But it did great, it did the job. We got the A.

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