Monday, December 5, 2011

Medieval Machines by Pitsco

Medieval Machines by Pitsco includes a model catapult and a model trebuchet with a teaching guide explaining the history behind the machines as well as experiments and mathematical problems and activities to go along with it.

This is what it all looked like when we took it out of the box.

Rob building the catapult while Ryan looks on.

Fun with the packing materials that were in the box
more fun...a giant tail

The finished catapult
I am not mechanically minded at all and didn't even attempt to build these.  Rob built them (much to his chagrin I have to say).  The catapult didn't take all that long. The pieces are precut they just need to be punched out. We had some quick grab glue that worked pretty good.  The trebuchet on the other hand took a long time and he was pretty frustrated.  We didn't have the glue we used for the catapult.  He tried a super glue (Gorilla) but it wouldn't stick and ended up using wood glue (hence the longer time because he had to wait for things to dry).  I did help with the strings because it takes tiny fingers and fine motor skills to make small loops (though I think he did end up doing some of that too.)  Anyway, this is not the kind of thing you can buy and expect your child to put together.

Ryan (12) was a little disappointed with the size of the catapult. I think he wanted a life size model. HA!  I took a picture of it next to the pencil so you can see the size of it.  It's actually a perfect size for having around and nothing is getting wrecked and there have been no injuries! :)

the trebuchet

the catapult and trebuchet side by side
The catapult worked exactly as it should.  The little tab that holds down the arm broke off but it still works.  We just have to hold it down manually...not a big deal.  In the Siege Machines book there are 5 pages of information about catapults followed by 6 pages of experiments and activities to go along with it. It covers mass vs. distance, averages, data gathering, tension vs. torsion, converting English to metric, graphing, and elasticity. Click here to see sample pages from the book.

Ryan preparing to shoot projectiles for our experiments.

You will need a balance or scale to measure your projectiles.  

The Trebuchet section of the Siege Machines book is 9 pages long and gives information about trebuchets and experiments to go along with it.  It covers gravity, levers, prediction, force, motion, scientific method and hypothesis.

A few other topics are included and the back of the book has 6 pages of standards for grades 5-8, 6-8 and 9-12 separated into ITEA, NCTM and NSTA standards.  It also has a list of additional resources including books, websites and videos to further your studies.

The Trebuchet
We had some trouble with the Trebuchet but it was completely our own doing. I had attached the sling incorrectly so it wouldn't work. I contacted Pitsco and was very impressed with the promptness and the helpfulness of Pitsco's customer service.  Once I fixed the way the sling was attached it worked.

Setting up the Trebuchet.  We used the backside of wrapping paper
and a measuring tape to see how far our projectiles would go.

I think this set makes a wonderful addition to all kinds of studies....from history to math and science.  It just happened that we were talking about how the Romans used catapults during this study.  The book that comes with it is informative and covers so many topics and is very affordable.

Kit assembly requires: Hobby knife, needle-nose pliers, ruler, scissors, sandpaper, and white glue such as HD Bond II. Siege Machines book activities require: Tape measure; digital scale or balance; 15'-20' of white roll paper such as the plain side of wrapping paper or Pitsco’s Range Paper Tape; cool-melt glue gun and glue; straw; ruler; scissors; extra rubber bands: 4 –  3-1/2" x 1/16" (#19), 1 – 3-1/2" x 1/4" (#64) (not including the one on the catapult), and 4 – 3" x 1/16"; target – either an 8.5" x 11" piece of color paper or one pack of Target Pieces; 2" x 12" sheet of balsa wood or basswood; 2 – 2.5-inch-long axles, 4 nylon axle bushings, small washers, and model car wheels (such as those for CO2 cars) (We didn't use the last few items. There was plenty to do in the book without that. I imagine we will do that some time soon though.)

Pitsco, founded in 1971, offers Science, Technology, Engineering and Math materials.  They carry an amazing array of kits and materials.  Sustainable Energy, Robotics, Engineering, Aerospace and more!


You can purchase a Medieval Machines pack at Pitsco for $21.95. (This set does not include the modeling clay that I received but any modeling clay will do.)  Be sure to check out other products from Pitsco or request a catalog. They also have a homeschool section on their website. See what others are saying about Medieval Machines on the TOS crew blog.

disclaimer: I received a free Medieval Machines pack in exchange for an honest review.

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