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Title (Click to View) Description
Trebuchet Video

Concepts in physics are used to create the billiards game listed below to simulate real world actions in a virtual world of computer animations.


Another fun application of physics is the use of a trebuchet which is a type of first class lever. My husband and I built the trebuchet in the video using 8 foot long 2x4 inch boards cut in half to make a 4 foot A-frame structure. A lawn mower blade is used as a trigger to hold the loaded arm which is counter-weighted with approximately 150 pounds. The attached sling holds a softball which is used as the projectile, and when launched, travels about 50 yards or more. The students get to pull the cord handle to experience first hand the conversion of potential energy of gravity to the kinetic energy of motion, "hands-on" science at its best!

The trebuchet activity was one of many activities presented during a week long summer science camp held at the historic Freel's Bend cabin in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, with class instruction provided by American Museum of Science and Energy of Oak Ridge.

AMSE's Science Explorer Camp is designed for rising fifth, sixth, and seventh graders, with a focus on a variety of science topics. In addition to summer science camp, AMSE offers year-round educational science programs through the Science Outreach program. The trebuchet is an example activity of the "Forces and Motion" program offered in the more than 20 programs for grades K – 5.

There are three types or classes (1, 2, and 3) of levers, according to where the load and force are located with respect to the fulcrum. Here are three types of first class levers. Note the fulcrums of the crow bar and trebuchet are on opposite ends of each other, while the fulcrum of the see saw is exactly in the middle.

Video Play Tip: If after clicking the video link and error "Windows Media Player cannot play the file..." type of message is displayed, simply close the error message, right-click the video link, click popup menu item "Save target as...", and save file to local drive, and finally open file from local drive to play video.

Safety Note: A trebuchet activity is a very fun science experience for both students and teachers, but like any machine, must be operated with caution. Many physics activities can be fun, but can also be extremely dangerous if proper operating procedures are not followed. For safety reasons, only adults were allowed to load the machine, while the students were able to operate at a safe distance using a 10 foot pull cord. As an extra safety feature, a steel spine was mounted along the bottom length of the arm. An iron safety bar was used to secure the arm, while the projectile (softball) was loaded in the sling pouch. Once the trigger (lawn mower blade) was positioned, the safety bar was removed leaving only the trigger as the only holding mechanism. This is when the trebuchet is at it's MOST DANGEROUS position (MAXIMUM POTENTIAL ENERGY). All the focus is on safety at this point until the safe release of the trigger by the pull of the cord handle.

Enjoy the activity, but always be cautious!

How about enjoying a fun game of billiards while learning how the mathematics of trigonometry, the Pythagorean Theorem, and Newton's Laws of Motion in physics are used to control playing the game? I would love to get student and teacher feedback on this game to let me know if it was helpful with teaching these concepts.

Click this link Billiards Game Overview to view or print a suggested introduction to playing the billiards game.

A fun activity with animation of circles can be built using the trigonometry functions sine and cosine.
Food Web

All animals have to eat to survive. The interaction between producers and consumers is called a “food web.” In this game, you will try to determine who eats what or whom. The object of this game is to feed as many animals as possible. Players will learn about producers, herbivores, omnivores and carnivores. To play the game, mouse-click on a game piece, drag it over another game piece, and drop it. For an added challenge, click on the “Predator” button!
Prey Survival

Life as a prey animal is tough! Test your survival skills against the predator in this game. The goal of the game is to help the prey find its "Home". Move your mouse cursor over an object on the board so the prey animal can hide from the predator. When the prey passes under the object a green box will appear. If the predator gets too close for comfort, you can click the “Help Me” button to temporarily divert the predator. Once the “Help Me” button is clicked, a red box will appear; there is only one diversion per object. You must pass through each object on the board before going “Home” to win the game. Do you think you can easily outrun the predator? Keep in mind that the speed of the predator increases as the game progresses. The Home space does not have a “Help Me” button, so plan your escape route carefully!

New! See if you can find the hornet nest and see what happens! Will the hornets help or hurt the prey?
Match Three

Click on two game pieces to swap them. Create a matching set of three-in-a-row horizontally or vertically to score points. Removed pieces will be replaced with new game pieces. Match 4 or more in a row for bonus points. If you get stuck and can’t find a match you can use the “hint” button, but if you do, you’ll be penalized 1000 points! The game ends if no more swaps can be made.
Butterfly, Moth and Caterpillar Memory Game

There are 15 butterflies, moths and caterpillars in this matching game. Click the matching photos to clear them from the board. How good is your memory? How many tries will it take for you to clear the board? This game can be played by one person or by teams.
Weird Bugs Memory Game

This matching game has 8 weird insects. Click the matching photos to clear them from the board.
Word Search

These are Word Search puzzles covering different nature categories in two levels of difficulty. For younger players, the “easy” puzzles have shorter words which can be read forward. The more challenging “hard” puzzles have words up to 13 letters and can be read in 8 different directions. The word lists are randomized, so no 2 puzzles will be alike! A “hint button” is available if you get stuck, but the words will turn red! How many words can you highlight in green?
Naturalist Trivia Quiz

Test your knowledge of nature facts with this quiz. There are 3 correct facts and one incorrect statement about different animals. How well do you know the natural world? Will you be stumped or will you be able to figure out which statement is a fib?
Butterfly Gardening list

To get the "Butterfly Gardening list.doc" file:
(1) Click the "Butterfly Gardening list" link in the first column on the left.
(2) Click "Save" button to save file to your local drive.
The Trees of Tremont.ppt

The Trees of Tremont.ppt

Webpage: Game