Junior Jackson Hollinger, junior Chase Spangler, senior Matt O’Brien, sophomore Mona Ledbetter-French, sophomore Lesley Hernandez, and junior Bailey Abels pose by their pumpkin trebuchet. Photograph Courtesy of JC Lewis
Junior Jackson Hollinger, junior Chase Spangler, senior Matt O’Brien, sophomore Mona Ledbetter-French, sophomore Lesley Hernandez, and junior Bailey Abels pose by their pumpkin trebuchet. Photograph Courtesy of JC Lewis

Students Engineer a Pumpkin Launcher

November 16, 2022

Chucking a pumpkin as far as possible is an art, so much more than just throwing gourds.  

Punkin’ Chunkin’ is a local competition where young engineers from high schools all over the county build catapults and compete to see who can launch a four to six pound pumpkin at three different targets.

Junior Bailey Ables was able to make a solid bond with her peers as teammates in the competition.

“Not all of us knew each other…but we [kind of] became friends after the contest, so it was a time where we could work together for two weeks and kind of get to know each other,” Ables said.

They are thankful for that team chemistry, because there were a few major obstacles.

The students work on their device. Photograph Courtesy of JC Lewis

 When the team’s trebuchet catapult broke the day before the competition, they had to show up before school to fix it.

 Senior Matt O’Brien was one of those teammates that helped out in the time of emergency. 

“We had [the trebuchet] break the day before,” O’Brien said. “At first we had resistance bands… but once the one end was let go and the resistance bands weren’t as tight anymore, they didn’t have any force, and so we ended up putting weight on the other end.”

 Another accomplishment for this team is that they had to design and construct this catapult all on their own, without help from adviser JC Lewis.

 “The device itself has to be completely student designed and then constructed, so we put a team together of some of our returning engineering students, as well as a couple folks from Mr. Martin and Mr. Water’s tech-ed classes, and they spent a couple weeks designing their device and constructing and putting things together and running some tests and trying to figure out what would work best,” Lewis said.

The Susky engineers prepare to launch their pumpkin. Photograph Courtesy of JC Lewis

The team placed seventh out of eight in this year’s competition. 

Other team members include sophomore Mona Ledbetter-French, junior Chase Spangler, sophomore Lesley Hernandez, and junior Jackson Hollinger. 

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