In 4th grade the children are expected to build a weapon of mass destruction – at least a medieval one, a trebuchet or a siege catapult. Which makes me wonder if my great, great, great, great, great grandchildren will be asked to build a heat seeking missile when they are nine years old. Apparently it has nothing to do with its capacity to kill – or in our case nearly take out a window and have Goldie Hawn and Bruce Willis running for cover, but a practical experiment in levers and force – huh….who knew?
Last year when Niamhy was in 4th, she and her Daddy spent an entire weekend struggling to perfect a trebuchet whose performance was, at best, inconsistent. It was with mutual horror that Andy, Jojo and I realized that her project was due when Andy was in Canada at a family wedding – what?! Are they really expecting me to help a little girl construct something that has to be robust enough to fire a distance of 60cm consistently and repeatedly? I’m a painter not a builder, a cook (sometimes) not an engineer – building these things requires a rudimentary understanding of physics – I can spell the word physics – score one to me. But in the absence of anyone else (Granddad get on a plane, we need you), I put on my medieval siege head and researched catapults with Jojo. With great trepidation Jojo and I got out the popsicle sticks, glue and marbles and set to work building a siege catapult.
Holy Crap! We rocked! We built a tiny catapult using clothes pegs, spliced with rubber bands, with a catapult arm and basket made from a plastic spoon. This thing may be tiny, exactly three inches high, but it sure can fire huge distances – at least 300 cms. every time…I can’t stop firing marbles long after Jojo has wandered off to play with her sisters – it’s really nothing short of a miracle. I’m stunned. What’s next 4th grade teachers? Bring it on, but not yet, because I want to play with the catapult some more. Maybe I could bring down a squirrel or two….