Pumpkins were flying Monday as students combined experimental procedures with fun for the annual Halloween Pumpkin Chunkin' event at Griffin Elementary School in Tyler.
There was more to the event than watching the popular seasonal squash hurtle through the air to smash on the playground to the laughter of school children. There was some sound educational content, too, Principal Branden Chandler said.
Students made postulates about which pumpkins would fly the farthest, whether size and weight made a difference, and why. For the youngest students, the fun probably outweighed the science, at least to some extent. But, particularly for the fifth grade classes, practice with scientific methods will benefit them later in the school year when they take the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness science tests, Chandler said.
"Students can use this for science and for math," the principal said. "Then, they can take the data they get back into the classroom, further analyze and discuss what they learned."
There's also a writing component, as students chronicled their findings in classroom journals.
Chandler and assistant principals Laurie Blain and Kim Hill who, dressed in bright yellow shirts and hats in the spirit of the holiday, were in charge of holding the ends of the elastic sling used to chunk the pumpkins.
Each class was allowed two pumpkins, one larger and one smaller, Chandler said. In class, before chunkin' day, the students tried to guess the weight of their pumpkins then decide which would fly the farthest.
The day of the chunk, by class, students trooped out to the playground with their pumpkins ready to fly. After a quick weigh-in, one by one, staff assisted the students as the orange orbs took flight.
"The questions are which goes the furthest and why," Chandler said. "They get to see if their hypotheses held true and, if not, why."
While learning was important to Chandler and his staff, for the kids, it was all about the fun. Fifth-grader Brandon Mosher, 10, was excited to see his pumpkin sail.
"Last year, I had the most fun ever," Brandon said. "My pumpkin won. I bet ours is going to bust this year."