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Weekly Spotlight - MPH

Jennifer Whiteside, Principal, Mary Putnam Henck
JoAnn Farley, Social Studies Teacher
Jose Lara, Social Studies Teacher

Trebuchet. Locking mechanism. Mangonel. Siege tower. Ballistae. Draw bridge. Medieval War Machine.

These are just a few words related to catapults and castles that students from Mrs. Farley and Mr. Lara’s 7th grade World History classes at MPH learned during the feudalism and medieval times unit.

Students were tasked with building a castle or catapult with specific directions to enhance their learning of this unit. For the catapult, they couldn’t use anything “modern” such as rubber bands, springs, plastic, type, nylon or strings. Even the castles had to have all components of a true medieval castle.

“Having the kids build a catapult or medieval castle assisted in hands-on learning for our students,” Mrs. Farley said, “and the quality of projects that came to school was amazing! I really think the kids enjoyed this unit, and after seeing the projects, I can tell they did.”

Typically, Science assigns the catapult project, but this year, the history department had the opportunity with the assignment and added in medieval castles designs as well to fit with the medieval motif. As Mr. Lara stated, “it was interesting to see the projects come in as it was a new group of students tackling the usual traditional project with an opportunity to break tradition with a castle.”

Mr. Lara added, “This assignment gave us and everyone on campus another perspective of the students outside of the academic side and put into display their artistic skills as many of the projects exceeded expectations.”

A good number of students learned about perseverance such as Devin Phillips, who said, “The project was fun but challenging and it tested my patience, as I broke many models.”

Some of the students noted how difficult it was “cutting cardboard” to make a castle or how they had to get the math just right to make their Catapult’s launch. Joshua Hendrickson figured out that “the more tension, it goes further.” Lucas Klein noted, “you had to have the catapult at just the right angle, it required me to use some math.” He also learned that “we had to work with what we had.”

Alana Wallace, while building her castle, said, “sometimes you come up with a good plan, but it won’t execute as good as you think.” Samantha Perez told us “it was harder to make than anticipated.” Conner Kendrick told his class that “castles were used for protection and defense.”

Students also had to write an essay explaining the components of their Catapult or Castle, its importance to Medieval times and explain the process in which they made it.

“At first, I thought it was going to be very simple to build a Mangonel,” Ethan Thornberg said, “but after a while of thinking of a design, I later asked my Dad for some help.”

Jocelyn Broderick told us, “I learned that it must have been very hard to build a catapult at the size they did in the Middle Ages, especially without all the modern technology that we have now. I’m glad I had an opportunity to build a catapult and I had a lot of fun doing it!”

Despite these learning moments, students such as Deja Ayon, who spent a vast majority of spring break on her project, summed it up best for many students as she was “proud of her creation and it's nice to see what I can make and accomplish with hard work, dedication, and perseverance.”

Overall, the faculty at MPH are proud of the hard work the students put into this year’s projects, as it displays the hard-working students within MPH and the mountain community.

Submitted by: JoAnn Farley and Jose Lara