July 23, 2016

Partly sunny

Launching a practical physics lesson

MEDINA — Students practiced the art of hurling pumpkins Friday and in the process learned about physics during the eighth annual Pumpkin Launch at Medina High School.

Eighteen teams composed of juniors and seniors entered this year’s competition. Each team had to construct its own trebuchet, a contraption similar to a catapult. The trebuchet used a counterweight to launch each pumpkin that was loaded into a slingshot.

Each team chose its own name, theme and theme music that was played over loudspeakers during their turn to launch as crowds of students and parents cheered them on.

Team Fire Nation took its name from Nickelodeon’s “Avatar,” a cartoon series. Team members painted their trebuchet black and had red flags featuring the Fire Nation black flame emblem attached to the sides.

“We picked the Fire Nation because they’re the only ones who used trebuchets” in the “Avatar” series, explained Lindsay Kasmer, 17.

The team members, all seniors, each wore a coordinated T-shirt and painted a red flame around one eye.

They said they had to complete the trebuchet on their own time and with mostly their own money, though Home Depot in Medina Township donated $25 to each team.

“Each of us put in over $100” into building the trebuchet, Fire Nation member Nick Rainaldi, 17, said.

He said he put about 30 hours of work into the project.

Physics teacher Darryl Scott said the competition was started eight years ago by another physics teacher, Doug Smith.

“It’s practical physics,” Scott explained.

The goal of the competition, he said, was for the teams to hit an assortment of items — folding furniture, electronics and even a boat — placed in a field. The more targets hit, the more points each team collected.

Also in the field were the effigies of seven teachers. Students donated money for the teacher they would most like the see hit by a pumpkin and the likenesses of the top seven earners were placed in the field.

All the funds raised will benefit the Medina County Board of Developmental Disabilities.

Although team Fire Nation briefly was tied for first place, in the end, the Trebuchet Tribe team won the field with a grand total of 11 points.

Contact Kaitlin Bushinski at (330) 721-4050 or kbushinski@medina-gazette.com.