Now that Halloween has passed, what’s one to do with all those leftover pumpkins? City Academy physics teacher Dennis Pedersen had students drop pumpkins off the school’s roof on Nov. 9 and 10. But, there was a catch to this assignment.
According to Pedersen, “The students are designing catchers that should keep the pumpkin from breaking. The pumpkin drop is intended to allow the students to apply the concepts from kinematics and force to a real-world situation. The catchers will have been researched and designed using the kinematic equations and Newton’s second law to predict both the fall and the best-catching technique. We are recording the drop in slow motion, and afterward, we’ll be using physics video analyses software to analyze the forces and motion in order for the students to learn from their successes and failures. This is for the love of physics and the fun of smashing pumpkins.”
Ten teams (five each day) made up of City Academy high school juniors and seniors participated in the pumpkin drop.
Rules of the drop included:
-Pumpkin catchers must be large enough that it can catch a pumpkin from 20 feet.
-Students are responsible for bringing their own pumpkin.
-Students can bring up to four pumpkins, and each pumpkin must weigh at least 3 pounds (extra credit will be awarded for every extra 2 pounds if the pumpkin survives the drop).
-Pumpkins may be painted, but no other modifications are allowed.
-Pumpkin catchers must be able to be moved and set up within 3 minutes.
-Styrofoam peanuts are not allowed.
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