Pumpkin Chunkin – Interactive Yet Educational Science

Vera Sun and Sebastian Schoepke

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Ridgecrest 8th graders use almost anything to get their pumpkin to fly at least 2.5 meters. Every Autumn, kids gather materials and participate in this thriller and interactive experiment.
Pumpkin Chunkin started in Ellsworth’s Preservation Forge blacksmithing shop owned by John Ellsworth in 1986. The first competition was held that year by Ellsworth and a few of his friends. The distance traveled by the pumpkins since then has greatly increased. The first throw was 126 inches and the current official record is 4,694.68 feet thrown by the team American Chunker Inc. on November 1st, 2013. Annual competitions are held in Moab Utah and Bridgeville Delaware. Many people are very serious about punkin chunkin, and people have machines that cost up to $200,000 as well as “aerodynamic” pumpkins.
There are six different types of categories for punkin chunkin. Various categories include: the catapult, air cannon, slingshot, trebuchet, torsion, centrifugal, and theatrical. Each category is unique in its own way. “Most efficient is the slingshot or catapult, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best one to build. If we shot for accuracy, then there are a lot of other options,” 8th grade science teacher Ms. Andrea Acres explained.
At Ridgecrest, science students have been doing this activity for 5-6 years. Some 8th graders and their parents are very serious about this, buying weights and giant pieces of wood. They spend two weeks learning about all the forces that make the pumpkin fly including gravity, air resistance, and projectile motion.
Pumpkin Chunkin is essentially learning outside the classroom. When asked what Pumpkin chunkin means to her, Ms.Acres commented, “It’s a chance for kids to learn actual real-life skills, things that they can use in their life later on. It’s a chance to give them an assessment that’s not a written test or scantron test. It’s graded the same, it’s worth the same amount of points, but it’s a lot more, I think, fun for the kids”

http://science.howstuffworks.com/transport/engines-equipment/question502.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pumpkin_chucking
https://www.punkinchunkin.com
http://www.worldchampionshippunkinchunkin.com

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Pumpkin Chunkin – Interactive Yet Educational Science