Taking a physics lesson out of the classroom and into the parking lot

Tuesday, February 8th 2005, 10:39 am
By: News On 6

Many of us avoided physics in high school, too much higher level math. But who knew how much fun it could be.

News on 6 reporter Rick Wells visited Hale High School in Tulsa Tuesday where they were having fun with physics.

John Hinkle is a teacher at Hale High School and his second period physics class is working on their class project, a one quarter sized trebuchet, or catapult. They were used for centuries as a weapon and they were very effective. "The first one that was used in Europe was used by Richard the first to knock down the walls of Edinburgh Castle."

This is after all a physics project so there is an academic application. "For them to be able to utilize angular acceleration, calculate angular speed; figure not only angular acceleration but angular velocity and distance." And a whole lot of other stuff.

They put the pen and paper equation to practical use. The weight in the bucket and the length of the arm will sling a weighted object a given distance. So we looked around and found a gallon jug of water and loaded it in the trebuchet. That was fun.

Using physics to build and operate a trebuchet. Everybody gets an "A".

There are competitions for this, one coming up in Texas in April. There is scholarship money offered to the winners. Practical and fun.