Math Lessons from the Pumpkin Drop

Canterbury Reports
November 4, 2020

Although middle school students were dressed up for Halloween on October 30, that didn’t stop them from using the “fallen object model” to measure acceleration due to gravity. They measured the height of the building and used the model to estimate the time it would take for an object to hit the ground.

And, since it was so close to Halloween, their objects of choice were pumpkins of different sizes.

“We squeezed as much math out of these pumpkins as we could,” said middle school math teacher Kevin Torwelle.

Students measured and weighed the pumpkins as they did metric conversions. Then, they dropped them off the roof, where algebra students calculated the velocity using quadratic equations. They were able to get the time to the nearest tenth of a second by only knowing the height (24 feet).

The experiment was especially exciting for Donny the turtle, who got to enjoy the spoils of the drop!

Learn more about the falling object model here, and check out some photos from the drop below.