We had a fantastic time at our first STEM Launch event of the academic year this past Saturday! Over thirty students from four CPS high schools (Chicago Vocational Career Academy, Lake View, Michele Clark, and Rickover Naval Academy) joined us on IIT’s campus for trebuchet building and testing!

Fall STEM Launch kicked off with a brief lesson on the history and physics of trebuchets from two CPS teachers, Derrick Svelnys of Rickover and Michelle Caporali of Michele Clark. Did you know that trebuchets were used in battles up until the 16th century and can fling up to 350 pounds? So cool!

Each student was then given a trebuchet kit to begin the building process. After a couple of hours of wrestling with not so compliant wood, students completed their trebuchets and split up into groups using ping pong and wooly balls as projectiles to test them. The groups made adjustments to the amount of counterweight they were using to get the projectiles to fly as close as possible to the paper bowl target we tasked them with hitting. It was great to see how interested the students were in the physics behind their models. After testing, we headed over to IIT’s 10th annual Pumpkin Launch to watch life-size trebuchets built by IIT students fling pumpkins over 300 feet!

It was great to welcome new and returning STEM Launch students to campus. We are looking forward to our next program in the Winter. Stay posted for details!

Check out pictures from Fall STEM Launch here!


Trebuchet Building & Testing

Derrick Svelnys, Physics Teacher at Rickover Naval Academy, speaks with STEM Launch students about the history and physics of trebuchets.


Building Trebuchets
STEM Launch students start building their trebuchets


Building a trebuchet!
Building a trebuchet!


Students test out their trebuchets
Students test out their trebuchets


STEM Launch Students at the Pumpkin Launch 

IIT’s 10th annual Pumpkin Launch


STEM Launch students are ready to see some  pumpkins fly!
STEM Launch students are ready to see some pumpkins fly


Pumpkins everywhere!
Pumpkins everywhere!
Fall STEM Launch: Trebuchet Building and Pumpkin Launch!