Friday, December 2, 2011

Review: Pitsco Medieval Machines

When this box arrived in the mail, I thought Michael would jump for joy.  He is very into medieval castles, knights, and weaponry.  This was the perfect item for Michael to help me review.
True confession time. I did not help my son build these machines. It was father son time. I did, however, listen in while they worked. It took them a couple of hours to put the catapult together. It sure brought out the nuances of their relationship.  ~grin~ 

They found the instructions to be pretty clear for the catapult.  It was just a matter of punching out the pieces, figuring out exactly how they fit together, and gluing them with crazy glue.  Simple enough, but challenging to actually do.  They had some trouble fitting the pieces together and even broke a piece.  They glued it back together and went on.  My son, Michael, is 12.  He grew impatient with waiting for the glue to dry at each stage; but, that's a 12 year old thing.  Hubby was happy to spend the drying time at the computer. ~smile~  After it was all put together and dry, there were some adjustments that had to be made in order to make it throw the little clay balls like it should.  Michael experimented with moving the throwing arm a bit, making different sized balls, and adding a second rubber band to increase the tension.  I new the moment he had it right.

You see, I was sitting in the living room with my back to the dining room table...and the catapult.  I was sewing peacefully when I felt something lodge in my rather fluffy hair.  It wasn't a spit wad ladies, though my hair was a perfect target in high school.  ~sigh~  It was a small clay projectile!  It had overshot the goal a bit.  I was then bombarded by a few more to Michael's delight.
Hmmmmm..... was this a good idea?
Michael went on to work on the trebuchet himself.   After his experience with Dad, he was able to do the second machine by himself.  It took him about the same amount of time.  He did complain that the wood wasn't strong enough.  He broke another piece and had to glue it back together.  When he finished the machine, he got his brother and sisters to help him test it.  It worked.  They had a lot of fun together.  The ages ranged from 10-20.  It was wonderful to hear them trying different things.  I did stay out of the range of fire this time. 
This kit also came with a booklet with history of the siege machines and experiments to do with them.  Michael read the book in anticipation of building the machines. 
From the website:

"From The Lord of the Rings to Night at the Museum, we are fascinated by these medieval devices. Now, use that interest to teach basic math, science, and problem-solving skills. With this pack, your child learns about catapults and trebuchets through hands-on activities that cover three 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
They will discover the history of medieval siege machines as well as the concepts required to build and use them.
Includes a Trebuchet Kit, Catapult Kit, Mass Plates, and the Siege Machines book.
Note: Most guide activities require additional items such as measurement and hand tools – see the Specs tab for more information."
Available from Pitsco.
Product ID: W37789           
Age range: Intermediate to Middle School
Request a catalog.

I think that this is a great idea instead of buying yet another plastic toy or game for Christmas or a birthday.
Disclaimer:  We received this kit at no charge through The Old Schoolhouse Crew review program.  The opinions expressed are my own and true.  I didn't pay for it; but, it would have been worth it!

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