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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Pitsco Education



Medieval Machines Pack

  • Trebuchet Kit
  • Catapult Kit
  • Mass Plates
  • Siege Machines book
  • $21.95
  • Age Range: Intermediate-Middle School
  • Available from Pitsco Education

Product Description (from Pitsco Website)

From The Lord of the Rings to Night at the Museum, we are fascinated by these medieval devices. Now, use that interest to teach basic math, science, and problem-solving skills. With this pack, your child learns about catapults and trebuchets through hands-on activities that cover three areas:

  • Science: Tension versus torsion, elasticity, gravity and levers, and force and motion
  • Math: Metric conversion, calculating averages, and prediction
  • Experiments: Mass versus distance, testing rubber bands, targeting, and more

They will discover the history of medieval siege machines as well as the concepts required to build and use them.


ClarkClan Product Thoughts

      Each of these siege machines are made of basswood sheets with laser cut parts. You punch the pieces out and then glue them together according to the instructions. The instructions written step by step with pictures for clarity. These were not difficult to put together, but they were not easy either. Matthew (18) and Sarah  (14) put together the catapult. Dad, Sarah, and Ben (10) put together the trebuchet. With the catapult the only real difficulty came when Matthew snapped the top of the trigger. This was fixed with a little super glue and has not seemed to affect the performance.  Dad and Sarah had a little trouble with one part of the trebuchet, but a step back and re-reading of the instructions made things clear.


      The real fun came when we used the siege machines! Sarah, Ben and Rebekah (8) all had fun when we tested the machines. First, we read the history in the Siege Machines  book. Then we launched into the experiments. One day we tested the catapult and the next we tested the trebuchet. The Siege Machines book has well laid out experiments.


      Our first experiment with the catapult was Mass vs. Distance. We weighed out three balls of clay, each with a different mass. Then we launched each ball three times and recorded the distances. Then we had to convert our English measurements into Metric measurements. The next experiment had us calculating and graphing averages. We also tested different rubber band sizes, as well as the temperature of the rubber bands.

     With the trebuchet we practiced prediction skills. We tested our ability to predict outcomes by trying to hit a target. We were able to talk about Newton’s third law of motion and transfer of energy.


     Each experiment was easy to accomplish and I appreciated the charts and graphs included in the book to fill out as a record of what they did. My kids discovered that the catapult was more accurate than the trebuchet. The trebuchet was finicky and had to be set up just so to be able to fire properly.

     Along with the experiments provided, my kids had a lot of fun experimenting on their own. Even though the safety instructions say to only use clay, my kids ended up trying Lego men. Then they got out our blocks and built castles to see what they could knock over with a ball of clay. I have seen them spend hours on the floor with these little machines, trying first one way then another.


     This was a winner with our family. I liked the well thought out, easy to accomplish experiments. Then I liked that the machines have been sturdy enough to have the kids play with them and try their own ideas. 

     Pitsco Education offers a wide variety of  learning activities.  Visit their website to find experiments in aerospace, dragsters and race cars, engineering, robotics, structures and many topics.


There were many other Crew Members who tested out the Siege Machines along with us. Visit the Crew Blog and read what they thought about these little medieval weapons.

As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received the Medieval Machines pack for free  from Pitsco Education, in exchange for my honest review of their product.

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