What comes to mind when you think of trebuchets? A mid-evil sling shot used to destroy castle walls? How about using it to catapult pumpkins over 1,100 feet?
Saturday Oakland County Parks and Recreation and the Village of Lake Orion hosted the fifth annual pumpkin launch at Orion Oak’s Park. It spotlighted four teams that include the Cranbrook Institute of Science, Oakland Ballistics, Flinging Mayhem, and Masters of Mayhem. Also involved were the Lake Orion High School team and the Falconiers, a two man group of sixth graders from Troy.
Michigan’s largest pumpkin launching contest featured locally made catapults which slung pumpkins through the air, providing record breaking numbers.
Name of Team 1st Launch 2nd Launch 3rd Launch Total Masters of Mayhem 1,295 1,385 1,374 4,054 Cranbrook 292 301 322 915 Oakland Ballistics 934 880 879 2,693 LOHS 284 293 292 869 Falconiers 0 0 10 10
“This event is a competition to see which team can launch pumpkins the longest distance and which team is the most accurate pumpkin launcher. It’s a great event for budding trebuchet engineers and spectators to attend. Spectators can talk to participants and learn techniques on how to build their own launchers,” Pumpkin Launch Founder and Lake Orion Village Council Member Michael Toth said in a recent press release.
Toth, who started the Oakland Ballistics in 2007 with Ryan Richert, said his strategy is pretty simple, try and launch the pumpkin as far as possible without breaking the machine. This is done with specific physics, science and engineering plans.
“I've always felt this event brings the opportunity to get your engineering juices flowing. Anytime you see one of these you can't help but think about how it works and how to make it go farther. With the diversity of machines that usually exists at our event you can also see how various styles of machines work and which ones are better. I get messages all the time from parents and kids who are into trebuchets for school projects or just for fun. This event gives them a forum to test ideas and learn from others,” Toth said.
Along with the pumpkin launch there was fun for both kids and adults. Free pumpkins, measured competition launches, freestyle launches, up close education and views of the launching machines, and fundraising food sales.
Even though the weather was cold, Troop 108 from Oxford kept the crowd a little bit warmer by serving hot chocolate, cider, and coffee.