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published by the WGBH Educational Foundation
This four-minute video clip features a team of engineers who recreate a medieval trebuchet, a device used to launch large projectiles. It gives a close-up look at the design process, which used only technologies available in the middle ages. The design team started with small physical models, ending with a massive device that hurls a piano. Kids will gain a deeper understanding of the mechanical advantage of levers and the importance of modeling a process before implementing a design (the first model was wobbly and dangerous). The concept of potential and kinetic energy is also explicitly addressed in the video.

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Editor's Note: Why was the trebuchet superior in accuracy and range to its predecessor, the catapult? The video does a good job of exploring the advantage of the off-center pivot point of the lever and the purpose of the heavy counterweight.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Motion in Two Dimensions
= Projectile Motion
- Work and Energy
= Simple Machines
Education Practices
- Technology
= Multimedia
Other Sciences
- Engineering
- Middle School
- High School
- Informal Education
- Instructional Material
= Activity
- Audio/Visual
= Movie/Animation
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Activity
- New teachers
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blended learning, engineering design, free science videos, lever arm, science multimedia, science videos, trebuchet video, video clips
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created June 6, 2013 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
August 19, 2020 by Lyle Barbato

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

3. The Nature of Technology

3B. Design and Systems
  • 6-8: 3B/M4b. The most common ways to prevent failure are pretesting of parts and procedures, overdesign, and redundancy.
  • 9-12: 3B/H6. To reduce the chance of system failure, performance testing is often conducted using small-scale models, computer simulations, analogous systems, or just the parts of the system thought to be least reliable.
3C. Issues in Technology
  • 6-8: 3C/M3. Throughout history, people have carried out impressive technological feats, some of which would be hard to duplicate today even with modern tools. The purposes served by these achievements have sometimes been practical, sometimes ceremonial.

4. The Physical Setting

4E. Energy Transformations
  • 6-8: 4E/M4. Energy appears in different forms and can be transformed within a system. Motion energy is associated with the speed of an object. Thermal energy is associated with the temperature of an object. Gravitational energy is associated with the height of an object above a reference point. Elastic energy is associated with the stretching or compressing of an elastic object. Chemical energy is associated with the composition of a substance. Electrical energy is associated with an electric current in a circuit. Light energy is associated with the frequency of electromagnetic waves.
  • 9-12: 4E/H1. Although the various forms of energy appear very different, each can be measured in a way that makes it possible to keep track of how much of one form is converted into another. Whenever the amount of energy in one place diminishes, the amount in other places or forms increases by the same amount.
  • 9-12: 4E/H9. Many forms of energy can be considered to be either kinetic energy, which is the energy of motion, or potential energy, which depends on the separation between mutually attracting or repelling objects.
4F. Motion
  • 6-8: 4F/M3a. An unbalanced force acting on an object changes its speed or direction of motion, or both.

8. The Designed World

8B. Materials and Manufacturing
  • 6-8: 8B/M2. Manufacturing usually involves a series of steps, such as designing a product, obtaining and preparing raw materials, processing the materials mechanically or chemically, and assembling the product. All steps may occur at a single location or may occur at different locations.

11. Common Themes

11A. Systems
  • 6-8: 11A/M2. Thinking about things as systems means looking for how every part relates to others. The output from one part of a system (which can include material, energy, or information) can become the input to other parts. Such feedback can serve to control what goes on in the system as a whole.
11B. Models
  • 6-8: 11B/M6. A model can sometimes be used to get ideas about how the thing being modeled actually works, but there is no guarantee that these ideas are correct if they are based on the model alone.
  • 9-12: 11B/H5. The behavior of a physical model cannot ever be expected to represent the full-scale phenomenon with complete accuracy, not even in the limited set of characteristics being studied. The inappropriateness of a model may be related to differences between the model and what is being modeled.
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Record Link
AIP Format
(WGBH Educational Foundation, Boston), WWW Document, (https://oeta.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/hew06.sci.phys.maf.trebuchet/energy-transfer-in-a-trebuchet/).
PBS Learning Media: Energy Transfer in a Trebuchet (WGBH Educational Foundation, Boston), <https://oeta.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/hew06.sci.phys.maf.trebuchet/energy-transfer-in-a-trebuchet/>.
APA Format
PBS Learning Media: Energy Transfer in a Trebuchet. (n.d.). Retrieved July 14, 2024, from WGBH Educational Foundation: https://oeta.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/hew06.sci.phys.maf.trebuchet/energy-transfer-in-a-trebuchet/
Chicago Format
WGBH Educational Foundation. PBS Learning Media: Energy Transfer in a Trebuchet. Boston: WGBH Educational Foundation. https://oeta.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/hew06.sci.phys.maf.trebuchet/energy-transfer-in-a-trebuchet/ (accessed 14 July 2024).
MLA Format
PBS Learning Media: Energy Transfer in a Trebuchet. Boston: WGBH Educational Foundation. 14 July 2024 <https://oeta.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/hew06.sci.phys.maf.trebuchet/energy-transfer-in-a-trebuchet/>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {PBS Learning Media: Energy Transfer in a Trebuchet}, Publisher = {WGBH Educational Foundation}, Volume = {2024}, Number = {14 July 2024}, Year = {} }
Refer Export Format

%T PBS Learning Media: Energy Transfer in a Trebuchet %I WGBH Educational Foundation %C Boston %U https://oeta.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/hew06.sci.phys.maf.trebuchet/energy-transfer-in-a-trebuchet/ %O application/flash

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source %T PBS Learning Media: Energy Transfer in a Trebuchet %I WGBH Educational Foundation %V 2024 %N 14 July 2024 %9 application/flash %U https://oeta.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/hew06.sci.phys.maf.trebuchet/energy-transfer-in-a-trebuchet/

Disclaimer: ComPADRE offers citation styles as a guide only. We cannot offer interpretations about citations as this is an automated procedure. Please refer to the style manuals in the Citation Source Information area for clarifications.

Citation Source Information

The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

The APA Style presented is based on information from APA Style.org: Electronic References.

The Chicago Style presented is based on information from Examples of Chicago-Style Documentation.

The MLA Style presented is based on information from the MLA FAQ.

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