The Science of Pumpkins
If you ask any of our teaching staff what program they have taught the most during their time in the education department, Pumpkin Circle is certainly at the top of their list.
This classroom lab program has been around for years – and its popularity only continues to increase. In fact, we typically book both of our classroom spaces for the entire Autumn at the Arboretum before the first week of the festival ends, and the majority of the programs are Pumpkin Circle.
For the first time this year we’ve also added a homeschool pumpkin program, Science of Pumpkins, which hosted over 180 students and parents this past week. It’s hard not to be pumpkin obsessed when we have 90,000 in the garden.
Many teachers use pumpkins in their school classroom to teach about the parts of a plant or the plant life cycle (just like our classroom lab), but that is just the beginning. In this month’s blog, I’d like to share a variety of other ways to teach science and math concepts using pumpkins.
Explore the Senses
Pumpkins offer an excellent opportunity for young learners to practice making observations with all of their senses, an activity that can be used across the hallway in your language arts classes, too!
Here are a few sample lessons:
Explore Math and Measurement
Pumpkins provide ample opportunities for practicing math and measurement skills. The obvious activity is counting seeds! Does the size of the pumpkin determine how many seeds it contains on average? Does the mass? Or the variety?
Students are also expected to use nonstandard units of measure. Some student investigation questions include:
- How many pumpkins tall am I?
- How many pumpkin seeds long is the table?
- How many acorns fit in a pumpkin?
You can also explore geometry by creating a pumpkin geoboard. What shapes can students generate? Can you use it to show fractions?
- Pumpkin Math Resources
- Estimation, Place Value and More
- Pumpkin 3-D models
- Giant Pumpkins (a teacher read)
Explore Other Science Concepts
There are a plethora of pumpkin-themed science lessons; here are a few more of our favorites:
- Do all squash float? Can you make it sink without opening it? Pumpkin Density Lesson Plan
- NSTA Pumpkin-themed Resources (most require login)
- Pumpkin Decomposition (and here is a version for early learners, too)
- Pumpkin DNA Extraction
Do you remember the watermelon rubber band challenge that took social media by storm a few years back? Well, you can do it with pumpkins, too! (With appropriate safety gear in place, please.)
Do you have a favorite science-themed pumpkin activity not listed here? We’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org – and it might just make it on the blog!
Director of Education