What happens when you teach hundreds of high schoolers how to build catapults, inject an unruly dose of adrenaline, and sit back and watch? On one Ohio campus, it’s called trebuchet—physics class gone wild.
Four of them kneel at the base of their trebuchets, loading and reloading quietly, though urgently. Behind them, another teammate chases errant ammunition, bending to pick up squash balls as they roll along the ground. From the stands, the court seems to move in choppy waves, the pattern-less arc of up to forty-eight swinging trebuchets setting the motion of flying objects. Judges in bright yellow t-shirts march up and back along each set of teams in play. And the students, with deliberate and repetitive movements, aim to kill.
The point of siege is Dayton, Ohio. Jacqui Montgomery, a physics teacher at Miami Trace High School, meets her students before the December sunrise. They are a few among several hundred who make a modern odyssey to Wright State University every winter, trundling along trebuchets, modern and miniature versions of ancient catapults. They travel by school bus and their assistant superintendent follows, toting a fleet of knee-high, homema…
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