WHITESTOWN, Ind. — Students at Traders Point Christian Schools watched as pumpkins fell from the sky, while hoping their designs kept the fruits from smashing on the ground.
The schools’ Third Annual Pumpkin Drop is part of their fall festival, and provides a hands-on learning experience for their engineering and design lessons in the classroom.
“It’s a thing we do as part of our Fall Festival such as the hayride days and the pumpkin drop right before break. So there’s a lot of excitement in the building and all over campus when we have these fun projects. It’s fun but there’s a lot of learning involved too,” said Jon Wassner, a teacher at Traders Point Christian Schools.
Each classroom in the kindergarten through sixth grade received a pumpkin to drop from a 50-foot ladder. The Whitestown Fire Department helps in the pumpkin drop by providing the ladder.
The idea is to use the five-step engineering design process of ask, imagine, plan, create and improve to come up with a way to keep the pumpkin safe when it falls to the ground.
“The goal is for students to make sure the pumpkin doesn’t break,” said Wassner. “We plan it, they create it, make a model, and the most important step now is when we drop it we ask, why did or didn’t it work as a result from whatever happened today.”
Students also receive a few constraints to encourage imaginative solutions and are guided to find realistic ways given knowledge of critical scientific principles like force and motion.
School officials hoped the pumpkin drop can further their goals of project-based learning and a focus on STEM education.
“The whole program is hands on. So we’re outside a lot and doing things in-out of campus. Not just in the classroom,” Wassner explained. “We try to have as many as those hands on learning opportunities as possible.”