Friday, October 19, 2012

All about pumpkins

Weighing our pumpkins

measuring our pumpkins
          We bought pumpkins a few days ago and my boys have been dying to carve them up.  But before they could I had a bunch of fun math and science projects I wanted to do with them.  First I made them each estimate the height (using a ruler and a flexible tape measure), weight, circumference, number of seeds inside, the number of lines on their pumpkin, etc.  I asked them to guess who's pumpkin was biggest, heaviest, fattest, had the most lines, the most seeds, etc.  I recorded all their predictions and then we dug in.

    We then measured, weighed, counted and saw how close we were to our estimates (but we still didn't cut anything yet so we still didn't know how many seeds).  I asked them how many pumpkins would it take to equal their own weight and weighed the boys as well.  Then we moved along to science.  I asked them if they thought the pumpkins would sink or float.  I wrote down their prediction and was surprised with what they came up with.  Evan and Alec both thought the skinnier pumpkins would float but the big fat pumpkins would sink because the bigger and fatter pumpkins would be too heavy to float.  Ian figured the big, fat pumpkins would float because the weight would be more spread out like in a boat.  We then put them in the water to see them all float!  
Recording our findings

            It was then time to start cutting.  They had to be pretty patient since I was alone and they couldn't cut into them by themselves.   I got a circle cut out of each of them and had them scrape out the guts as best they could.  They used latex gloves and Ian and Alec did a great job.  Evan hated the smell and quit on the spot as soon as the top was off his pumpkin. Once we had them pretty well gutted we started pulling out pumpkin seeds.  I asked them what the best way would be to count them quickly (hoping for suggestions of by 2, 5, 10 etc).   They did say by 10's but Alec actually counted by 2's (and since he had over 300 seeds that was great practice for him!) He counted out loud and I made a few corrections but mostly he did it.  Ian counted by 1's but he claimed it took less time than grouping and then counting.  He had over 400!  After we counted, I had them each pick a few seeds to try and plant.  They put them in a cup with some soil and lined them up on the windowsill.  We'll keep an eye on them over the next few weeks.   We also took one pumpkin that we didn't clean any of the guts out of (mine) and put potting soil and a bit of water inside to see what would happen.  I found this idea on this teacher's site she used a small pumpkin with some soil and water and grew a pumpkin plant coming right out of the pumpkin shell.  I'm not sure how well it will work in a great big pumpkin but that's why it's an experiment.  We'll keep an eye on that one over the next few weeks too.  I asked them which seeds they think will start growing first the ones in the cup or the ones in the pumpkin and most of them figured the ones in pumpkin because they'll have more room to grow and nutrients to feed it.  We'll just have to wait and see.   

growing a pumpkin
scraping and cleaning the pumpkin
planting seeds

           With math and science over we moved onto carving and decorating our pumpkins.  I also roasted pumpkin seeds for our snack.  The boys wanted to carve their own pumpkins so I had them draw the faces, gave a short tutorial on how to carve pumpkins and sat back. They did a great job with just a little bit of help from me here and there. I read a few Halloween books to them and pulled all our decorations out of storage and started decorating the house a bit.  The two older boys finished their coloring contest pages and we got ready for lunch.  I'm hoping to get them to do at least one of the fall or Halloween art projects I have planned but we'll see if they're up for it or not.  It's been a very busy morning. 

Alec's pumpkin, complete with hair!

Ian and Evan's pumpkins

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