With Halloween and Thanksgiving behind us, America is done with pumpkins. So now what do we do with the leftover ones? We throw them. As our friend Mike F. just shared, every year there are “Punkin Chunkin” contests across the U.S., where people bring all kinds of crazy machines they build to hurl pumpkins. The farther you chuck your pumpkin, the closer you are to being a winner. This video shows a “trebuchet”: A giant heavy weight hangs from one end of a long arm, with the pumpkin at the other end. The weight falls, spinning the arm at top speed. The pumpkin flies off, and in this case it flew 2,402 feet! We’re pretty sure no one wanted to eat that pumpkin after that.
Wee ones: Find 3 things in your room that you can pick up. Which one feels the heaviest?
Little kids: If the machine takes 2 seconds to drop the weight and 2 seconds to spin the arm, how long does it take to fling the pumpkin? Bonus: If you start setting up your machine at 8:00 am and it takes 3 hours, at what time are you ready to chuck pumpkins?
Big kids: If all the pumpkins you chuck crack open except every 3rd one starting with the 3rd, does the 19th pumpkin crack open? Bonus: If your one friend’s pumpkin flies 800 feet, and another friend’s pumpkin flies 1,400 feet, how far does your fly if its distance is halfway between those?
The sky’s the limit — even for pumpkins: A mile has 5,280 feet. Did the record-breaking pumpkin fly a half mile with its 2,402-foot flight?
Wee ones: Items may include toys, shoes, books, or a chair or small table.
Little kids: 4 seconds. Bonus: At 11:00 am.
Big kids: Yes. The 18th does not. Bonus: 1,100 feet. The other two are 600 feet apart, so your flight is 300 feet different from each.
The sky’s the limit: Not quite. If you doubled its flight, you’d get 4,804 feet, which is less than a mile.
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.