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The Great Pumpkin Chuckin’!

Cooperative learning program at Middle School builds pumpkin catapults

 

by Rhonda Pearson, Chloe Quimby, Heather Ladd - October 30, 2015

On Thursday, October 29th the Rock L. Butler middle school participated in a school-wide cross curricular event called S.T.E.A.M (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics). The students used pumpkins as a focal point for the event. The students worked on different tasks each afternoon that involved science, math, engineering, writing, and the arts. Some of the highlights were building and testing catapults and trebuchets, writing pumpkin poetry and decorating their class pumpkin. The culminating activities came together on Thursday, October 29th. Thursday morning students were on the field for the first ever pumpkin chuck. The 8th grade S.T.E.A.M. class along with teacher Matt Erway constructed a large trebuchet weighing well over a ton with the counter weight at 600lbs and approximately 22ft. high that launched the decorated homeroom pumpkins. The event was complete with the reading of pumpkin eulogies written by the students about their pumpkins, and the middle school band playing on the field. They also had homeroom competitions using the catapults built during the week in the gym from kits that had been provided by Mr. Erway and Mrs. Ladd.

This event is a culmination of 9 weeks of incorporating subjects and learning styles for all students in the hope that it would appeal to everyone participating. Most of the activities were homeroom based. The students filled out job applications. Available positions included: Pumpkin Designer, Engineer, Writer, Music/Cheer Production, Mathematician. Each student was asked to create Pumpkin Poetry to be displayed on their lockers. On Tuesday, they watched Videos on Trebuchet/Catapult physics and visited websites to help the students construct their catapults. The catapults were constructed out of recycled materials; plastic spoons, tongue depressors, rubber bands, can goods…etc. Each homeroom was also given kits provided by Mr. Erway and Mrs. Ladd with the materials needed to build bigger versions of trebuchets that were used during the competitions in the gym on Thursday.

Mr. Petripola, mentioned that with Cross Curriculum the students learn that not only is science and math needed to build these structures, but that english and art and other subjects all work together to get the projects done. The students also witness that even their English teachers need to know science or the Math teachers need to know art in order to help the students with their projects.

Mr. Erway and Mrs. Ladd headed up the S.T.E.A.M. event. They were instrumental in making this event a reality. The passion these two teachers have for what they do is phenomenal and as they were showing the Home Page crew around; there was no denying the excitement and love for teaching they shared with the students. As we stopped in the rooms to check out the progress of each homeroom Mrs. Ladd or Mr. Petripola would check out the projects and how they were coming along and didn’t hesitate to join in the conversations taking place among the groups and if something wasn’t working quite right would ask them questions to get them to look at there structure a different way to try and fix or enhance their catapults. Mr. Erway, showed us the giant trebuchet that was to be the main focus on Thursday and was excited to talk about the changes he was making to the sling in the hopes to get more air time and distance when chucking the pumpkins. In every homeroom the teachers seemed just as excited and inspired by this project as much as the students.

Credits:

 

Produced by Vogt Media

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