17th Annual Trebuchet

April 19, 2024
George C. Terry River Bend Arena

Event Registration

Register by February 16, 2024

Register for Event

What is a Trebuchet?

A trebuchet is a medieval military machine used to hurl objects with great force. It uses basic principles of physics to demonstrate the effects of weight dropped over a short distance on a projectile that is hurled a long distance. Trebuchets were used to lay siege to castles from distances beyond the reach of the castle archers. Besides traditional projectiles, such as large rocks, attackers were also known to launch dead animals or manure over castle walls in the hopes of spreading illnesses among the defenders.

What is Lewis and Clark's Trebuchet Contest?

The annual Lewis and Clark Community College Trebuchet contest, now in its 17th year, is a modern, non-violent and educational application of this medieval device. Teams of four to five high school students representing school districts in the L&C district plan, design, build and test trebuchets under the guidance of a teacher or coach who serves as the sponsor for the team. Schools may enter more than one team under a single sponsor.

Teams come to a central location on the college's Godfrey campus to compete with their trebuchets for distance, accuracy, presentation of their design, and other criteria. Teams are urged to collaborate with drafting teachers from their high schools in using CAD software so that their trebuchet can be built in virtual form before construction. Trebuchet simulation programs can also be used to help design a working trebuchet. A key component of the competition is the team report. The report is supposed to document the team’s efforts and results, including what worked and what didn’t work, along with background research into trebuchet design and history. Materials used are up to the individual teams. Trebuchets can be constructed from wood, PVC piping, or other simple materials.

The annual trebuchet contest is a great opportunity for high school students to apply lessons learned in physics and math to a hands-on application. In addition, the event fosters team building, exploration, and problem-solving. These are critical skills for those interested in pursuing jobs in an engineering field.

2022 contest video
2018 contest video
2017 contest video
2016 contest video
2015 contest video
2014 contest video