STEM Challenge

Teachers! Students Can Build a Trebuchet and Win Prizes

TrebuchetThe Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation is hosting a STEM Artillery Challenge for upper elementary-level students! The students will build a tabletop trebuchet from an approved list of materials. They will then make a video of them shooting their trebuchet for accuracy and distance and post it to YouTube and send the link to by Friday, November 9, 2018. Entries will be judged and the three finalists will be invited to compete at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown on Tuesday, December 4. All Finalists will receive a free tour of the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown and win one of three cash prizes.

PURPOSE: To engage students in an interactive way with STEM and project-based learning.

AGE: The contest is for students who are equivalent to upper elementary-school age.

PROJECT: Groups will build a trebuchet of their own design from the list of approved materials below, not to exceed $20.00.

SUPPLY LIST: Not to exceed $20. There is no need to use all the items, just what you need.  The counterweight is not to exceed 5 ounces.

30 popsicle or craft sticks
String – no more than 6 feet total
Grocery bag
Cardboard square – no more than 18-inches square
Dixie cup (little)
Plastic spoon
10 pipe cleaners
Scotch Tape – no more than 6 feet total
Paperclips – 10
Binder Clips (any size) – 4
2 Big pencils
6 Straws
24 Rubber Bands
Marshmallow projectiles – your choice of size!
Counter Weight (D Battery – 4.9 oz – Duracell; Fishing weights; Counterweight not to exceed 5 ounces)

Use a selection of these items to build a trebuchet and then make a video of the trebuchet in action. How you demonstrate accuracy, distance, and ingenuity is up to you! The trebuchets can be decorated however you choose.

Groups will upload the video of their trebuchet to YouTube and send us the link by 5:00 p.m. on November 9 to be judged on November 13. Contest winners will be notified by November 16. Please send the YouTube link to

The top three Finalists will be selected to be the Finalists and will be invited for a free tour and Finals Competition at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown on Tuesday, December 4. The tour and contest will run from 9:30 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. The three finalists will also receive a cash prize based on their finish in the Finals.  During the Finals, each team will get 15 minutes to explain their trebuchet, go over the materials used to make it, and then compete for accuracy and distance in a total of 5 shots.

Trebuchet Presentations & Contest (15 minutes each) – 5 shots each

STEM CONCEPTS Addressed by this Activity: