HTHS engineering students construct, use trebuchet
By Gary Lloyd
Hewitt-Trussville High School Engineering Academy students earlier this month learned by smashing pumpkins.
The Engineering Academy on Nov. 4 launched pumpkins with a trebuchet that the students constructed and dropped some from the top of the school. The trebuchet could launch a pumpkin about 80 yards, said Engineering Academy Instructor Jason Dooley.
Dooley said Eric Lambert’s physics classes and Ryan James’ calculus classes participated in the pumpkin drop. Chris Bond is also an Engineering Academy instructor.
“We all had a great time smashing leftover Halloween pumpkins, all in the name of science and engineering,” Dooley said.
The trebuchet team consisted of Taylor Herrin, Jonathan Adams, Emma Burford, Zach Cobb, A.J. Ward, Nathan Robinson, Vishal Modi, Joseph Kerns, Trey Stennis and Zack Charles.
In the academy’s Computer Integrated Manufacturing class, students worked with partners to build and program a robot to compete in a two-on-two soccer tournament. The balls used in the soccer match were assigned various point values based on the color of the ball. Some balls actually subtracted points. The robots were equipped with push buttons so that if it was activated, the robot would be disabled for five seconds.
Dooley said the project began by students building a robot and programming it to navigate through a simple maze.
“Students progressed to the point where the robots would run autonomously, avoiding obstacles by using ultrasonic and touch sensors,” Dooley said. “The culminating activity was the soccer tournament, and students enjoyed the competition.”
Students involved in this project were Michael Beaman, Vince Corey, Nick Garrett, Rachel Keaveny, Andrew Patterson, Austin Posey, Jonathan Stilwell, Josh Strickland, Tyler Toner, Lauren Townley, Nick Walton, Chace Wigley and Griffen Young.
“Any opportunity that I have to make an activity into a competition seems to be beneficial, as it makes it a lot more exciting,” Dooley said. “Students are more excited about programming when it is associated with robotics.”
Earlier this week, the Robot Training Park Mobile Training Lab, a converted 53-foot semi-trailer that contains robots and programmable logic controllers, came to the high school. The mobile lab is used to educate students and create awareness about careers in the robotics and automation industry.
Videos of the trebuchet throwing pumpkins and the robotics soccer tournament are available here.
Contact Gary Lloyd at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.