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Spring Fling
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 In 1191, Richard the Lionheart deployed the first two trebuchets at the Siege of Acre during the first confrontation of the Third Crusade.

On Friday, over 800 years later, students at Indian Creek Middle School showcased their medieval creations as part of a project in John Scruggs' eighth grade Quest science class.

A trebuchet is a catapult mechanism that relies on leverage and gravity to launch projectiles.

 In the 12th century, European militaries used the weapons to launch heavy projectiles, sometimes in flames, over fortress walls and through portcullises.

 Scruggs said he thought of the idea when he was teaching a section on leverage to his students.

 "We were studying levers in class and I thought it would be cool to do a project where they could do this," Scruggs said of the assignment. "I really thought this would be a great way to teach them about second class levers."

 After seeing a trebuchet on television capable of launching items as large as small cars, over 300 feet, he knew the students would enjoy the assignment.

 Scruggs said the students worked on their contraptions for two weeks and some of them needed onsite construction.  "I gave them the assignment to build the trebuchets and told them there were no rules," he said. "I decided to make it a contest at the end to see whose can throw a golf ball the farthest."

 The science behind a trebuchet is constructing a throwing arm with a fulcrum and counterweights on the opposite end of the launching arm.

 Students used golf balls for their projectiles and several drilled holes and ran string through the center to form a loop to attach to the throwing arm.

 Some of the students constructed their trebuchets using PVC pipe while several used wood.

 One machine in particular, built by Wesley Chambers, looked like something out of "Lord of the Rings."

 Chambers' trebuchet extended high above the classroom trailers and utilized natural wood in its construction.

 Scruggs said he didn't do anything but advise students who had specific questions and he helped out slightly with some modifications once the machines went through the testing phase.

 Friday's culminating event drew plenty of attention from other classes as several teachers brought students to watch the competition.

 The students manned their machines and took turns launching golf balls while Scruggs measured the distances.

 In the end, Chambers' trebuchet took home first place for longest distance in the air at 177 feet, while Brandi Eskew and Jennifer Cole took the top spot for longest total distance with 255 feet.

 Scruggs said his class worked hard and took the lesson seriously. But the competition gave the students a chance to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

 Next year he plans to give the assignment again but with a twist.

 "I would like to do this annually if I can," Scruggs said, "but I'd like to have the defending champion come back to defending his or her championship after they go to high school."