Thomas Jefferson High School students in Mrs. Erikka Kuhse’s physics class were challenged to use their knowledge of physics concepts to design and build a protective apparatus for a pumpkin as it free falls from a predetermined height, without showing visible damage upon impact. Students worked in teams to become structural engineers to complete the design process in accordance with the project guidelines.

The Pumpkin Drop Day was held on Oct. 31, 2018. Out of 12 teams, only one pumpkin survived without a scratch. Each team documented their work throughout the process and shared the information on Twitter to showcase their progress and generate excitement along the way. Students analyzed data from their team’s Pumpkin Drop and incorporated the information into a presentation, which included details of the protective apparatus design process, initial prototypes, before-and-after images, graphs and calculations of mass, acceleration, velocity, and force of gravity, as well as final conclusions and areas of improvement.

On Wednesday, Nov. 7, students presented their findings to teachers, peers and invited guests and answer any questions. Attendees voted for “Best Team Apparatus,” “Best Team Design” and “Best Team Performance.” The Pumpkin Drop was a way to reinforce physics concepts in a fun and engaging project.