Land of the Flying Pumpkins

by Laura Overdeck

With Halloween and Thanksgiving behind us, America is done with pumpkins. So there are “Punkin Chunkin” contests across the U.S., where people bring all kinds of crazy machines they build to hurl pumpkins. This video shows a “trebuchet”: A giant heavy weight hangs from one end of a long arm and when the weight falls, the pumpkin flies off the other end. We’re pretty sure no one wanted to eat that pumpkin after it flew 2,402 feet.

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?

Answers:
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.

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