Physics Pumpkin Drop


Aireonna Fox

Physics students participate in the pumpkin drop.

Bailey Van Wagoner, Business Manager, Managing Editor, Web Editor

Physics teachers assign a project each year called the Pumpkin Drop, where students build a mechanism to catch a pumpkin dropped from the roof of the school. This year, the Pumpkin Drop was held on October 12th and 15th on the south side of the school.

As Mr. Vongsawad, a physics teacher, supervised his class he explained that the main goal of the assignment is to calculate the height of the school based on a pumpkin’s fall and the laws of motion. The secondary goal is to catch the pumpkin at the bottom, unharmed. While the goal of each student is the same, their devices for accomplishing it varied significantly in shape, size, and material. This variability is due, in part, to the restrictions of the project.  Certain objects which make the pumpkin easier to catch, like blankets and pillows, were banned. Vongsawad said it’s exciting to see his students “use their creativity to think about how they can safely bring a pumpkin to a stop falling from this fun distance.”

While this is a great opportunity for students, some teachers dislike the Pumpkin Drop. “The Pumpkin Drop is a major distraction to the learning environment of all of the classrooms that are in the vicinity of the Pumpkin Drop, “ says Ms. Catten, whose room is on the second floor next to the Pumpkin Drop area. This year Catten moved from the bottom floor to the top but says she is still driven “bonkers” by the event. Instead of hearing the thud of pumpkins hitting the ground, Catten’s class is distracted by the stomping of students’ feet on the roof.

Instead of fighting against the distraction, Catten has found a way to compromise. For each period of the Pumpkin Drop, the teacher opens her blinds for 5 minutes for students to watch part of the activity. Once they’ve satisfied their curiosity, the class returns to their desks and works for the rest of the period. Catten feels “it’s not worth it to fight it,” so she sacrifices 5 minutes of class time for better concentration from her class for the rest of the period. Even so, the pumpkin drop still distracts Catten’s students and other classes for the majority of two school days.

As a yearly tradition, the Pumpkin Drop isn’t going away anytime soon. Students will keep throwing pumpkins off the roof, and teachers will continue the struggle against the disruption this assignment causes.