It’s the pumpkins that suffer when kids learn about physics
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — This pumpkin had a face like Tom Cruise in his “Top Gun” days.
Cruise’s “Maverick” picture was taped to the pumpkin’s orange rind. It was lovingly swaddled in bubble wrap and packed in marshmallows. Then it was launched from 65 feet in the air.
Maverick didn’t make it.
“Poor Tom, I’m so sorry,” lamented Nile C. Kinnick High School student Kimberly Ruiz, surveying the injuries.
Devil Elvis screamed to earth in a box painted with the words “Boom Shaka Laka!” The pumpkin survived its express ride from a bucket truck to the high-school courtyard.
Credit a good parachute, dead leaves and luck, said students Brian Walters and Michael Bellavance.
“We were hoping that it would make it, but we didn’t think it would,” Bellavance said. “So we threw in a bunch of garbage at the last second.”
About 30 pumpkins were dropped Monday when high school physics classes tested Newton’s laws on Halloween’s signature squash. It’s a great way to watch acceleration, impact and collision in action, said Department of Defense Dependents Schools teacher Ryan Goodfellow. Physics classes often drop eggs, but Goodfellow upped the ante.
Because “pumpkins around the world have come to fear Halloween” and its vicious carving tradition, Goodfellow said he charged his students with designing contraptions to keep pumpkins from “spilling their guts” on the holiday afternoon.
“The pumpkin ties everything together,” Goodfellow said.
Vessels containing the pumpkins could be no more than four and a half pounds and students were required to explain the physics in a report using mathematical equations.
The students got creative. One team, “Trick or Treat,” stuffed its box with cake. It was pumpkin cake after the fall. Yoko James and Jener Delos Santos packed their pumpkin in football pads. The result made the case for body armor.
Kylie Richmond thought water might absorb the shock. Her pumpkin made a resounding splat that drew cheers from her peers.
“If it breaks, at least it’s going out with style,” Richmond said.
Swim noodles kept Justine Mendoza and Mariko Wood’s pumpkin from a pulpy fate.
“That was fun,” said Mendoza. “I’ve never done anything like this in class before.”