Ah, the joys of summer camp: campfire songs, s'mores, and trebuchets? Thirty-one Washington, D.C.-area high school students practiced building mini-engines of war this summer at the University of Maryland's first ever "Catapult Camp."
The one-week program, offered by the university's Center for Minorities in Science and Engineering, is one of a number of summer activities that univer-sities across the nation are employing to recruit minority students into the scientific disciplines, where they are significantly underrepresented at the collegiate level.
So how lethal were the weapons the high schoolers assembled (with assistance from undergrad engineering students)? The more modest attempts managed to hurl their small objects about a yard or so, says Bruk Berhane, who coordinated the program. But some managed to fling their payload up to 10 yards. "That was pretty exciting," Berhane says, given that the kids "didn't even start building them until Wednesday."