Cody Millard

Brett Bailey
Tony Alameda
Nolan Nadasty
Julian Perkins
Trebuchet Lab
Introduction
Used as early as 1210 by Count Simon de Montfort, the trebuchet is a mighty weapon of
war that was virtually unstoppable when used to siege castles and fortresses. Though not the first
weapon seen to throw stones and other missiles, this was by far the most efficient and powerful.
The machines were carefully and thoroughly designed for efficiency. They were capable of
launching 400lbs stones with great precision at the peak of their design. It showed improvement
from the original models, which were much smaller and weaker.

This lab is demonstrating the nature of potential and kinetic energy through the trebuchet.
It demonstrates both principles very visibly and accurately. You are able to see how the kinetic
energy is transferred from the potential energy, slinging the ball through the air.
Procedures
For this lab, we followed the design posted on the internet from another high school
physics class that seemed to be effective. The design is based on a four foot by two foot
rectangle, with four foot beams coming up from them to support the arm and rigging. We
supported these beams with two foot cross bars adjacent to the sides. The arm is a four foot beam
with two two-foot pieces of wood to support the bucket (the total length of the arm is about five
and a half feet). It was supported on a two and a half foot long steel conduit which acted as the
hinge. The bucket was filled with dumbbells, which we adjusted based on the results we saw.
The build was difficult as it rained the whole time, which may have affected the wood
when cutting and drilling. It was also raining when testing it, which proved to be difficult also, as
trekking through the mud was a hastle. There were many issues when launching. When too much
weight was in the bucket, on the downward swing, the bucket’s hing would come off. Lastly,
recording exact angles and times was difficult, as it was a larger scale than anticipated.
Data
We launched the trebuchet several times with much difficulty, often changing the
position of the sling and ball or weight within the bucket. After several attempts of trial and error,
we saw a recurring result and used that. When we release the ball from slightly behind the base
of the trebuchet, with a weight of 18lbs, the ball would travel anywhere from 25-35 feet. Were
able to conclude that our trebuchet had .19.9Joules of kinetic energy. It was also observed that
the percent difference between the potential energy and the kinetic energy was 12.4 percent.

Tennis ball weight: 57 grams
Distance (d): 10.18 meters
Angle (θ): (approximately) 15°
Time (t): 4.6 seconds

Analysis
Calculations:
For Velocity:
v = d/t
v = 10.18m/4.6s
v = 2.21 m/s
For Height:
mgh = ½(m v 2 )
gh = ½(v^2)
(9,81)h = ½(2.21^2)
h = 0.25m (+1.67m [height of trebuchet])

% of energy transferred from potential to kinetic:
19.9J KE/160J PE = 12.4%

Group worked together on the construction of the trebuchet well, as well as the write up.
There were difficulties in meeting times as our schedules did not always work out together, but it
got done. The lab itself taught us about kinetic energy and potential energy and how they

correlate. It allowed us to see this first hand, physically. We saw that as we held the weight and
ball in place, the potential energy remained, and when the weight and sling were released, it
transferred into kinetic energy, throwing the ball.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Golf-Ball-Trebuchet/
http://www.historynet.com/weaponry-the-trebuchet.htm