Elizabethtown College Online Magazine

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far from the …. Trebuchet?

collage of apple chunkin pics one of a bag of apples others of students gatheredEach spring, as part of Scholarship and Creative Arts Day, students showcase research, demonstrate projects and exhibit or perform creative works.

One interactive and even spectacular display, this year, was the Apple Chunkin’ competition. Student-built trebuchets lined the infield of the College’s track, and teams took turns launching apples into the air. This event was the culmination of Dr. Sara Atwood’s Intro to Engineering II class. First-year students spent the semester in the classroom and fabrication lab modeling, designing and constructing the contraptions. To level the playing field, teams were given budget and size constraints. Then, through friendly competition, their engineering skills were put to the test.

“We did research to find what we thought was the best trebuchet and, then, used the engineering process to put our design into physical form,” said computer engineering major Omar Zabala ’16, adding that he learned time and budget management skills in the process. His team was victorious; their three-foot device sent an apple 210 feet.

Mechanical engineering major Josh Otton ’16, didn’t just grow his skills, he also grew his social circle. “We worked in teams of four, and I was already friends with one [of my teammates], but I … made some more friendships… It’s been really fun,” he said.

Atwood outlined the hands-on, project-based curriculum found in the Department of Engineering and Physics: First-year students “chunk” apples; during sophomore year, they work on community-based projects; and, in the junior and senior year, they complete a more advanced project.


Watch some of the apple chuckin’ in action and hear from Dr. Atwood. Video taken at the 2012 event.