Education

Ready to storm the castle. Merced College students launch annual Siege Weapons Competition

Physics students build siege weapons at Merced College

Merced College physics students launched basketballs with siege-style weapons on the campus of Merced College in Merced, Calif., on Wednesday, May 15, 2019. The students attempted to launch the balls a required distance to receive an A grade.
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Merced College physics students launched basketballs with siege-style weapons on the campus of Merced College in Merced, Calif., on Wednesday, May 15, 2019. The students attempted to launch the balls a required distance to receive an A grade.

Merced College physics students competed in the annual Siege Weapons Competition on the campus of Merced College on Wednesday afternoon.

According to Physics Professor Lana Jordan, about 50 students from the first semester physics class took to the Merced College practice field to put their knowledge of mechanics to the test.

“They’re creating period like siege weapons, so trebuchets, catapults things like that,” said Jordan.

The goal for the students is to use their siege weapon to launch a basketball 15 meters to receive an A grade.

“After that, we have a competition for distance and right now we’re at about 44 meters for the longest one, we’ve got somebody at 40,” said. Jordan. “What they’re doing is taking all the stuff that they have learned through the semester, kind of putting it together, designing, executing and hopefully making the grade,” she said.

Jordan said trial and error is something she witnesses students deal with during the competition from year to year.

“They know the basics of it, they know the physics behind it. It’s getting their machine to work,” said Jordan. “So lots of trouble shooting, lots of engineering, lots of tweaking which is going to be their job in the future anyway. Find a problem, learn how to solve it.”

Physics student and 27-year-old Modesto resident Bianca Cavazos, said that she and her partners worked on the design for their trebuchet over the course of a couple of weeks.

“It worked really well,” said Cavazos. “Our’s is actually called the Duct Tape Devil because it’s honestly just put together mostly with duct tapes and wood. But it did great it did the job, we got the A.”

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