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In what will surely be hailed as a victory for makers and baseball-loving fans of Medieval siege weaponry everywhere, a 10-foot trebuchet built by Pittsburgh’s MAKESHOP will huck the first pitch at the Pittsburgh Pirates game this Sunday, Sept. 1, when they take on the St. Louis Cardinals.

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An attendee of last weekend’s Pittsburgh Mini Maker Faire pulls the trigger to launch a water balloon from a trebuchet that will toss out the first pitch at an upcoming Pittsburgh Pirates game.

If you think about it, what is a trebuchet but a giant pitching machine? All summer at MAKESHOP and the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh kids and visiting makers have been working on the device as part of their Rookie of the Gear program. Previously, the Children’s Museum collected pitching machine drawings and idea from kids during pre-game activities at the Pirate’s Sunday home games. The treubuchet had its debut at Pittsburgh’s Mini Maker Faire this past weekend where kids got to pull the trigger and launch water balloons as a warm up for the big game. The three finalists in the design contest will be on hand for Sunday’s first pitch.

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The trebuchet. Note the yellow wheels for easy mobility.

MAKESHOP is a partnership among Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center, and the University of Pittsburgh Center for Learning Out-of-School Environments (UPCLOSE). MAKESHOP is a space for children and families to make, play and design in a hands-on environment.  MAKESHOP has a team of skilled makers, artists, and educators on hand to help visitors translate ideas into into tangible objects.

The first pitch event is also a calculated mingling of two groups that don’t always overlap: young makers and sports fans.

“We are delighted that the Children’s Museum’s MAKESHOP Rookie of the Gear pitching machine design contest was such a huge success,” said Brian Chiera, Pirates Senior Director of Marketing and Special Events. “We are also proud to host the pitching debut of the Children’s Museum’s MAKESHOP Rookie of the Gear trebuchet built by Children’s Museum visitors and staff.”

Stett Holbrook

Stett Holbrook is editor of the Bohemian, an alternative weekly in Santa Rosa, California. He is a former senior editor at Maker Media.

He is also the co-creator of Food Forward, a documentary TV series for PBS about the innovators and pioneers changing our food system.


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