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Monday, December 5, 2011

Do You Love Punkin Chunkin?

We have recently discovered the beauty of  Punkin Chunkin.  We haven't actually done it....we just watch it on T.V.   I don't know why it is so entertaining....but it is.  There are definitely some interesting people involved in creating the great big machines that hurl the pumpkins across the field.  There is definitely a whole sub-culture of folks who "chunk". 

It is where we first learned what a "trebuchet"is.  That is one of those words that I feel smart when I say ....especially because I also know what it is!  I can now add proud owner of a Trebuchet and a Catapult to my list of accomplishments!

We got a chance to review some products made by a company called Pitsco.  They sent us two Siege Machines ....also known as a catapult and  a trebuchet to construct and try out.  Cool, huh?

They are mini we couldn't launch a pumpkin across our neighbor's fence or anything....but we could launch little clay balls at enough for this mom!  (You don't get those pesky calls from the cranky neighbor lady that way either.)

The kits came with a book all about Siege Machines.  This is the book that has all the things that make a homeschooling mom's heart go pitter-pat.  It explains about the science, technology, engineering and math of medieval siege machines. 

For each machine, they have sections called:  Launching into Experiments, Launching into Science and Launching into Math.  These things walk you through "school" kinds of things like mass versus distance and testing and gathering data and then plotting your average results.  So, you can feel like you are "doing school" even when you are just trying to see whose little clay ball launches the furthest!

The book talks about the history of war machines and the evolution of their use throughout the ages.  This section ends with 1986 and the beginning of the World Championship Punkin Chunkin contest.....which has now spawned the annual Punkin Chunkin show on Discovery Channel.  (In case you are interested, as of the time of the writing of this post, there are 333 days, 14 hours,  17 minutes and 40 seconds.....until next year's contest!)

That was one of the fun parts of getting this kit.  We watched the huge catapults and trebuchets (and air cannons) launch pumpkins before we built our own miniature versions!

The kits took us a while to construct properly....and there were a few....shall we say "tense" moments when Rainman was trying to take the lead in construction and lots of little hands were in his business....

(Why isn't the lid on that glue bottle????)
But, we succeeded with no blood shed.....just a little bit of glue shed.

(He looks just a little cranky, doesn't he?)

The kits came with something called Klean Klay so you can make your little balls o' destruction.  It is a non-drying clay that you can use over and over again and it isn't supposed to lose any of its far, so good.   Those pink balls in the above picture are our balls o' destruction that ended up being too big to launch very far.

After a bit of practice, we have found the perfect size ball o' destruction and now the kids have moved on to seeing what else can be launched....without making mom mad.  For your information, pretzels work pretty good and don't do any damage.

Pitsco is a treasure trove of fun projects if you have a science or an engineering minded member of your family.  I won't say kid....because, honestly, there is some stuff on their site that I would love to get and play this house framing kit or this robot....or this rocket. I have wanted to launch rockets since the 4th grade when the boys got to join  "rocket club".  (In retrospect, I probably could have joined....but wasn't courageous enough to cross those mid-70's gender boundaries.)

Seriously, just go wander around their website for a while. 

I can wait.

I lot of the stuff on their site is designed for classroom use...but there is a homeschooling section where you get can just what you need for your home use. 

I must admit that I expected our siege machines to have a short, yet satisfying life at our house....but they have been surprisingly sturdy and haven't broken yet....that is always a good sign, in my opinion.  Oh, and, no one has been hurt by any of our little flying experiments....also a good sign!

The homeschool Medieval  Machines Pack is available through the Pitsco website for $21.95.

Check out what other TOS crew members throught of their Pitsco machines here.

We received the Medieval Machines Pack for free in exchange for an honest review of their product.