City Academy 

High School Students Put Physics Lessons into Practice to Catch Falling Pumpkins

June 21, 2022

Leaves are falling, and Monday at City Academy, so were pumpkins.

Dennis Pedersen’s 11th-grade physics class put what they had learned about gravity, acceleration, velocity and force to the test Monday afternoon as they dropped pumpkins from the school’s roof onto five different catchers.

All the pumpkins survived the fall, which surprised Pedersen — in the four years he has done the experiment with his students about 1/3 of the pumpkins have been smashed.

Physics students at the City Academy in Salt Lake City celebrate a successful after taking part in a pumpkin catch on Monday, Nov. 5, 2018.

All designs used memory foam products in some manner to cushion the fall.

Pedersen said he was most impressed with the catcher built by Payden Checketts and Nicole Crocker.

“They put several different layers, and in their explanation told why they chose those layers,” Pedersen said. “They looked a lot at the lab we did about crumple zones in cars and designed it after the same idea, that there should be rigid parts and soft parts in multiple layers.”

The team built a container with wood posts and fabric on the sides, and inside they had rubber surgical tubing topped with a folded piece of memory foam.

“It absorbs a lot of force without a lot of give,” Checketts said of their memory foam piece. The surgical tubing acted as “suspension.”

Read the Deseret News story here

Read the KSL news article here