Photo by Danny Fulgencio

Good Shepherd Episcopal School is catapulting its eighth graders into the future. 

The pre-K through eighth-grade school is known for its creativity, having recently attracted national headlines for its program matching third-grade students learning cursive with pen pals at Presbyterian Village North senior living communities. Another initiative, “Classrooms of the Earth,” has kids hiking more than 50 miles, traveling more than 5,000 miles, canoeing 10 miles and rafting 11 miles.

A recent activity, the catapult and trebuchet project, involves physics and engineering. A catapult works because energy can be converted from one type to another and transferred from one object to another, according to a Scientific American story. 

Goggle-clad kids in blue oxford tops and khaki bottoms prepare to do battle. Teacher Chris Jackson gives them a “Tool Time” handout, advising them to check with a teacher before construction. 

Power drills are involved. 

After circulating through stations to learn about time management, drills, hardware (where to grip a hammer), saws and innovation, the kids are ready to go live with their catapult experiments. 

Katharine Bales is the eighth-grader documenting the event for the school newspaper. She observes that the devices are made of wood, PVC pipes, lacrosse nets and more. 

Safety glasses are required.

Did we mention that power drills are involved?

Mr. Jackson is standing by. Calmly. 

Will students be able to use their catapults or trebuchets to send a tennis ball over a wall of boxes to collapse an arrangement of Hula Hoops? 

The sun shines. The students are nestled in an architecturally pleasing courtyard. Teachers encircle them, calling out supportive cheers. 

The Spanish teacher yells, “Bueno!” The tennis ball flies. Boxes and Hula Hoops fall.

Look out, Ursuline, Jesuit and ESD. Here they come.

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