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Jim Hofmann
Six 12- and 13-year-old boys spent 63 hours over the summer building the catapult - which they named the 'Hill Top Terror' - at a Sussex County farm.
TODAY staff and wire
updated 9/24/2008 8:08:41 PM ET 2008-09-25T00:08:41

One New Jersey farm has a special attraction to go with the season's hayrides and corn mazes: a giant pumpkin catapult.

A group of middle-school students who became obsessed with the medieval weapon asked northern New Jersey farmers Anthony and Heidi Lentini if they could use physics to fling the big orange squash.

The couple, who have corn mazes on their Newton farm to attract customers, agreed.

The half dozen boys and technology teacher Jim Hofmann from Halsted Middle School began work in August and finished building the giant catapult this weekend. Hofmann said he got advice on the construction from Col. Stephen Ressler, head of the department of civil and mechanical engineering at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

It took 63 hours and cost about $1,200. The Lentinis paid for construction.

The farmers say the device is up and running and covering the farm with the smashed remains of damaged pumpkins.

The Hill Top Terror received its name one evening during a beautiful red sky sunset, Hofmann said, after the boys turned around to admire their work on the hilltop of Lentini’s farm.

“Hey, we're not building birdhouses in the technology classroom anymore, you know,” Hofmann told TODAYshow.com of the project, which involved months of planning, sketches, testing and safety features. “Heidi and Anthony Lentini gave us an opportunity of a lifetime for these kids.”

More about the farm: www.lentiniproduce.com.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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