A Pumpkin That Packs a Punch

Here's your nightly math! Just 5 quick minutes of number fun for kids and parents at home. Read a cool fun fact, followed by math riddles at different levels so everyone can jump in. Your kids will love you for it.

A Pumpkin That Packs a Punch

October 1, 2015

Here we’ve barely started the month of October, and already the pumpkins are working hard to become the biggest and bestest ever for Halloween. Gene McMullen of Illinois just grew the new largest pumpkin ever in North America: it weighs 2,145 1/2 pounds! As we see in this quick video, it’s a huge job even to lug the pumpkin onto a scale to measure it. Gene must have some special gardening tricks, since he’s the same guy who grew that 1,692 1/2-pound pumpkin last year (we like that he adds on that extra half pound, just to show he’s paying attention). The largest pumpkin in the world weighed 2,323, but we’re thinking Gene is getting good at this and might beat that number next year. That all said, this is one awfully weird-looking shape to carve into a jack-o-lantern.

Wee ones: Can you say the digits in the number 2,145?

Little kids: Which weighs more, a 1-ton elephant or this pumpkin? (A ton equals 2,000 pounds.) Bonus: If it took Gene exactly 5 months to grow this pumpkin as of today, in what month did he plant the seed?

Big kids: If next year Gene grows a pumpkin that weighs 200 more pounds than this 2,145-pound one, will he beat the record of 2,323?  Bonus: If he chops off 10-pound chunks to make pumpkin pie, how many full pies can he get out of it?

The sky’s the limit: If the pumpkin weighed 10 pounds after its first week of life, then doubled its weight each week, could it have reached this weight in 10 weeks?




Wee ones: Two, one, four, five.

Little kids: The pumpkin weighs more.  Bonus: In May.

Big kids: Yes! It will weigh 2,345 pounds (a nice neat number).  Bonus: 214 pies, with 5 pounds of pumpkin goop left over.

The sky’s the limit: Yes. It will weigh 20 pounds on the second week, then 40, 80, 160, 320, 640, 1280, and finally 2,560 in the 9th week.

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About the Author

Laura Overdeck

Laura Overdeck

Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking before she could walk, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.

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