Students and science teachers at Pleasant View Middle School wanted everybody within earshot to know they were launching fruit and balls last Thursday from trebuchets, recreations of medieval siege weapons.

Students and science teachers at Pleasant View Middle School wanted everybody within earshot to know they were launching fruit and balls last Thursday from trebuchets, recreations of medieval siege weapons.

"Are you ready, Ron?" asked science teacher Lori Welsh as 13-year-old Ron Rieser steadied the firing pin on the 17-foot-tall contraption.

Ron gave a nod and Welsh turned to the rest of the class.

"OK, say it loud. We want everybody to hear."

Instead of a countdown, Ron yelled, "Trebuchet!" His classmates returned with an even louder, "Trebuchet!" -- the French word for catapult.

With the pull of a broomstick, acting as a makeshift firing pin, a bag of flour was launched into the air, leaving a powder trail behind before it crashed into the earth in a puff of white.

Cheers and applause followed.

Welsh and fellow science teacher Dave Cachat have been teaching the principles of the scientific method through trebuchet construction, and resulting destruction, recently to keep students interested after taking the Ohio Achievement Tests. The students also tend to lose interest with the rapid approach of summer vacation, the instructors admitted.

"They've had an absolutely fantastic time doing this," Welsh said. "It's just so much fun."

She added the students are learning, as well.

Students learned the history of the siege engines, built miniatures and tested different variables before they went outside for the real thing, Welsh said.

"We started with the history of warfare," she said. "We're manipulating variables. That was the purpose."

Rieser said he took a smaller trebuchet model and multiplied all the numbers by about six. He said he and his dad spent about 12 total hours building what Welsh called a 17-foot-tall "beast" with which Rieser now uses to destroy melons in precise pageantry.

"I really like science," Rieser said. "I really like building stuff and I really like overdoing stuff, so it fits nicely."

He said the trebuchet cost about $300, a small price to pay for having fun with ancient siege technology.

"It's good for parties," he added.

Zach Boggs, also 13, and his dad built an even bigger trebuchet. He admitted it was finished in a hurry, but after a few trial fires, he was pleased.

"It's turning out better than I expected it to," he said.

He said his cost about $500. He built the trebuchet because he "thought it would be a good thing to have around the house."

In all, students made 11 trebuchets. They have been testing them to find the optimal shooting situation for each trebuchet.

Cachat said he started the lesson on trebuchets with his students last year. This year, popularity has grown tremendously, he said.

"I think next year we're going to have to build a real castle and a moat," he said.