Similarly, when I was in my high school physics class, there were some things we did our "Physics Olympics" competition that wouldn't fly today. This was only 15 years ago, but in a small, rural, midwestern town.
Just offhand, I remember building a Rube-Goldberg machine comprising (among other things) a very sharp hatchet, a butane torch, and a large mercury thermometer.
Another project had a goal of flinging a tennis ball the farthest; my partner's father worked in a metal shop / foundry and we built a compressed air cannon involving 1/4" steel pipe and some rather impressive pressures.
While we were talking about gears, pulleys, etc, I assembled a rudimentary cranked Gatling gun - about 12 inches tall, out of Technic lego, copper tubing, spring steel, etc -- that could fling BBs a distance of around 30 feet.
However, even then we could see the changes coming. While I was in school, the new school board decided that students who took both wood and metal shop were no longer allowed to make crossbows. It was a tradition going back at least 40 years; some of the kids with good artistic skills carved beautiful stocks. Of course, there aren't even wood or metal shop classes now.
All of my teachers have since retired and there's a completely new administration now. Last year a student was suspended for having a kitchen knife - in her car - which she had brought to cut a birthday cake. The school board backed down from an outright expulsion. Sad, stupid times.