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Western FYE History Students Deliver Fast Food, Medieval Style

October 13, 2005

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MACOMB, IL - - Lee Brice, a Western Illinois University assistant professor of history, is up to his old - - make that medieval - - tricks.

Brice’s First Year Experience (FYE) “Western Civilization to 1648” class will enact a demonstration of “Fast Food Medieval Style – With Free Delivery,” using a student-built trebuchet, from 12:15-1 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20 on the track and field throwing area inside Hanson Field (closest to Q parking lot). Students in the class are building a cardboard “castle” for the focal delivery point. A rain date is scheduled for noon Thursday, Oct. 27 at Hanson Field.

The field exercise is a culmination of an undergraduate research program in history by senior Steve Catania (Naperville, IL), who will be present to answer questions and talk to observers, Brice said. As part of his research, Catania built the model trebuchet and fired fruit from it in Spring 2005.

“Medieval warriors used trebuchets to hurl large rocks and other heavy items into castles and fortifications during sieges,” Brice explained. “While my students will reenact the process with less dangerous items, the teaching and learning outcomes will stay true to the spirit of the period.”

It will be “lock, load and fire” to see which lunch will travel furthest and have the greatest impact. In keeping with Western’s summer reading theme for incoming freshmen – the book “Fast Food Nation” by Eric Schlosser – students will fire fast food from various chains in Macomb such as McDonalds, Hardees and Burger King. Pumpkins and melons also will be fired, Brice said.

“This is fun class for my students and for me,” Brice said. “They get to experience something we typically only read about, so this adds to their understanding. And I really enjoy sharing a quick history lesson with the people who gather to watch.”

Brice’s Oct. 20 “class” is open to anyone who wishes to attend.

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