Don't Call It a Catapult - It's a Trebuchet: Teams Are Gearing Up for Competition at the Citadel

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Google helps “launch” Storm the Citadel! 2014 Trebuchet Competition, the annual STEM education contest held on The Citadel's Charleston, S.C. campus. Teams are getting to work using their engineering know-how to design medieval-style launching devices.

A trebuchet is a carefully engineered machine. That’s what the proud and enthusiastic competitors bring to The Citadel each year.

Students and other competitors planning for Storm The Citadel! 2014 Trebuchet Competition hear their mentors saying “Don’t call it a catapult. It’s a trebuchet!” The mentors are leading teams, with members ranging from six years of age and up, who use their best engineering know-how to design medieval-style launching devices for the annual competition. The teams don’t hurl giant rocks but they do launch small rubber balls and lacrosse balls hundreds of feet during the event that attracts more than 3,000 people each winter to the college’s iconic campus. Storm the Citadel! 2014 is scheduled for Feb. 15 and teams are already preparing.

“Our teams and their mentors are quick to distinguish a trebuchet from a catapult,” said Glenda La Rue, director of the STEM Center of Excellence for The Citadel. “It’s a rightfully-earned point of pride. A catapult can be any device that throws an object. A trebuchet is a carefully engineered machine. That’s what the proud and enthusiastic competitors bring to The Citadel each year.”

Google understands the need for STEM education

Co-hosted and co-founded by Google and The Citadel, the event reinforces the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Storm The Citadel! The event is designed to encourage students from kindergarten to high school to get acquainted with engineering and see just how fun and exciting it can be. Generous support from Google, which helped found the event, is helping the event grow and move on to a national level of awareness.

“At Google, we understand how important it is to attract students to STEM fields at an early age,” said Eric Wages, operations manager at Google’s Data Center in Berkeley County. “The Storm The Citadel! Trebuchet Competition is the perfect mix of fun and learning that just might inspire some of the nation’s future innovators while helping South Carolina fill a growing number of positions that need scientists, engineers and mathematicians.”

Get involved with Storm The Citadel!
Storm The Citadel! pairs students with business, engineering, or parent mentors from the community. The mentors encourage an understanding that in S.C., and especially in the Charleston area, the number of exciting, sustainable careers in STEM fields is swiftly expanding due to Boeing South Carolina and other defense support and technology industries. Student teams (K-12), can request mentoring support and apply for funds to help with team expenses. The Citadel also hosts a free physics workshop each January for the mentors and classroom teachers of registered teams in all divisions.

Businesses, government agencies and non-profits from S.C. and beyond can get involved in several ways:

  •     Enter a team in the Centurion Division. The competition encourages collaboration and innovative thinking, while allowing companies to flex their engineering muscles.
  •     Host an exhibit during the event. Exhibits should focus on K-12 students and their families to demonstrate STEM-related organizations and initiatives and encourage students to develop interest in STEM learning.
  •     Mentor a K-12 trebuchet team. STEM professionals or engineering-savvy parents can form teams or volunteer to register as mentors. Resources are available to help guide a team to success.

To find out more about how to get involved with Storm The Citadel! please email rewing(at)citadel(dot)edu, or calling (843) 953-7118. Storm The Citadel! 2014 will be held Feb. 15, 2014, as part of the college’s annual Eweek (Engineering Week).

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Kim Keelor
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The Citadel Military College of South CarolinaGoogle in Berkeley County, SC