Pitsco is a company that helps students succeed by offering a variety of hands on STEM-oriented products and curriculum. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. They want to engage and inspire their learners since they know many students learn better working with their hands than through traditional textbooks. For homeschoolers they have put together several kit and curriculum packages that you can check out here. The one we got for review is their Medieval Machines Pack.
Long, long, long ago when countries and kingdoms were at war, siege machines were the normal weapons to fight with. The Catapults and Trebuchets were some examples of them. If you and your kids have seen movies like Lord of the Rings, Robin Hood, or the Three Musketeers, then you would have seen some of these weapons in action. Pitsco’s Medieval Machines Pack comes with a Trebuchet Kit, Catapult Kit, a Siege Machines Book, and counterweights for the Trebuchet. The price of the set is $21.95. They also have boxes of Klean Clay to use as projectiles but it is sold separately. To build the kits and do other activities, you will need basic household items like glue (the list on the instruction sheet has the brands of glue they sell but any Super Glue, Crazy Glue, or instant bond glue will work), scissors, a ruler, etc. The Siege Machines guide includes multiple hours worth of several different STEM activities and lessons. From it your kids will discover the history of medieval siege machines as well as the concepts required to build and use them. The age range for Medieval Machines Pack is intermediate-middle school.
The Trebuchet is a sling shot like device that throws a projectile at a very far range.
The Catapult is a pulley crank device that hits targets precisely at close range. The smaller the projectile the further it goes. The larger the projectile the shorter the distance.
While learning about Catapults and Trebuchets through the hands-on activities you’re covering these areas:
- Science: Tension versus torsion, elasticity, gravity and levers, and force and motion
- Math: Metric conversion, calculating averages, and prediction
- Experiments: Mass versus distance, testing rubber bands, targeting, and more
My husband and son said it was a fun project to make. While they worked together I just watched and asked questions. Even though a middle school child can read the directions and do this on his or her own, some adult help or supervision may be needed. My 12 year old would not have been able to do this on his own. There’s some waiting time for pieces to dry after the gluing process so be prepared for that. Here's a word of caution from my husband "read carefully and be sure to follow directions thoroughly". He glued two pieces from the Catapult on wrong but thankfully it didn’t mess up the outcome of the project. He and my son both loved this machine the best and played with it more. For them the Trebuchet just didn’t work as well as they hoped. It was the hardest of the two to put together. They kept making the clay smaller to get the sling shot to work. My husband thinks the sling (cloth) is not as durable and would have preferred something stronger like leather. He also thought the string was too thin. He felt a thicker thread would have worked better.
This was our experience so don't just rely on it. My other crew mates may have had a different take on it from us. Check out the crew blog to read what the others had to say about the Pitsco Medieval Machines.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions in this review are entirely my own. I was not paid to write this but received a Medieval Machines Pack and Klean Clay free of charge to review, and give my honest opinion.