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Making Math And Science Exciting Through Engineering Sport: The Wright State University Trebuchet Competition

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

K-12 Engineering Outreach Programs

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.861.1 - 13.861.13



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Paper Authors

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Joseph Slater Wright State University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Making Math and Science Exciting Through Engineering Sport: the Wright State University Trebuchet Competition

Joseph C. Slater

February 29, 2008

1 Abstract

The Wright State University Trebuchet Competition distinguishes itself from other STEM out- reach events in that it combines teamwork and a sporting event at the culmination of in-school educational activities. A moving average of approximately 20 local high schools participate in this event each year, with a total of 450 active participants in 2007 (year over year increase of approximately 20% for the seven year life of the event) with a drop to 277 in 2008 explained later. The competition held each Winter in a sports arena pits teams of four trebuchets against each other (four trebuchets on each side) in a battle-like match. The event has the atmosphere of a sporting event, and students are demonstrably emotionally involved with the event. Students who return after observing or participating in a previous year gain a strong understanding of the importance of preparation and teamwork. Teachers report significant increased engagement in the classroom due to the eventual payoff. Surveys illustrate a 49% increase in interest in STEM area and a 36% greater interest in attending Wright State University, even though they do not visit the campus proper during the event. With an operational budget under $2000/year, this event provides an extremely economical outreach opportunity that provides a benefit/cost ratio far beyond typical activities.

2 Introduction

Numerous outreach activities are performed by universities and professional societies and other organizations each year with goals of improving understanding by K-12 students of STEMM (Sci- ence, Technology, Engineering, Math, and Medicine) and positively impacting performance and recruitment of students into these fields through more informed educational choices. Examples of these are the NSF STEP programs 1 , Science Fairs, the First Lego League 2 the TEAMS competi- tion 3 , the West Point Bridge Design Competition 4 and others. 5 Assessment of the impact of these events is challenging as the independent impact of a single event amongst many others is difficult


Slater, J. (2008, June), Making Math And Science Exciting Through Engineering Sport: The Wright State University Trebuchet Competition Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4229

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