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Two medieval monsters unleashed at MacKillop

Modern history came to life with the firing of two student built Trebuchet’s at MacKillop Catholic College in Palmerston.

The ceremonial opening shots were fired by government representatives – Representing the Federal Government MP Luke Gosling OAM and representing the NT State Government… Tony Sievers MLA, Member for Brennan, the Assistant Minister for Veterans Affairs, Sports & Community Events.

The two MacKillop History teams then got down to the serious business of top honours in distance and accuracy. Hundreds of students lined the battlefield and cheered their teams on. One direct hit on the target, proved the accuracy and power of these medieval siege engines.

Trebuchets were built of heavy wooden and metal beams. Often built on-site outside a castle or town that was being besieged. They would fling rock projectiles against the fortified walls, gradually hammering a breach through which the attackers could storm. Often the mere presence of a trebuchet or two could be enough for the defenders to surrender, as they would be better treated if they agreed to honourable terms rather than put the attacking force to weeks of work.

MacKillops trebuchets were not as big as some of their medieval monsters, but the principles worked in the same way. They use gravity to release a stored weight on a counter arm. This flings a sling in which the projectile is encased.

As an education outcome, the project was good value. It taught:

  • Leadership, for both emerging and accomplished student leaders
  • Teamwork for all students who participated
  • Physics in a number of ways from lever principles to a study of stored kinetic energy
  • Mathematics in calculating various angles in the building, plus understanding ratios of the weights involved, and
  • History in developing an understanding of medieval times.

The Eagle group would especially like to thank Mr Paul Dimmick, for his passion and knowledge; Ms Alix Stirling, for scoring and encouragement and school officers, Mr Roy Levers and Mr Ian Anderson. And our wonderful Principal Loretta Graham, for backing an idea that let us combine education with FUN!

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