A record number of pumpkins will fall from the sky on Friday, Oct. 23 during West Virginia University’s annual Pumpkin Drop.
The event, hosted by the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, brings together more than 350 elementary, middle and high school teams from across the state and region that have spent months designing protective casings for their pumpkins based on learned concepts in physics, aerodynamics and architectural design.
Veteran pumpkin dropper Mike Revak, advanced placement psychics teacher at Albert Gallatin High School in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, has been bringing his students to the event for 15 years. Revak uses the visit to campus not only to throw their pumpkin off the roof of the Engineering Sciences Building, but as a college visit for his grade 11 and 12 students that will soon be selecting a college.
“The day of the Pumpkin Drop we tour the engineering facilities, the Rec Center and participate in a question and answer session with current WVU students,” said Revak. “This is an added benefit to our students to see the real college experience while applying the topics we discuss in physics.”
Moundsville Middle School Gifted Education Teacher Becky Wilson has worked the drop into her curriculum by creating hands-on lesson plans that challenge her students to use science and engineering principles in their design.
“Our school has participated in the Pumpkin Drop for years and our students love it,” said Wilson. “Each year they are determined to come up with a way to succeed and win, which gives them a challenging learning experience that allows them to collaborate with their peers.”
Wilson will accompany 10 groups from Moundsville, grades 6-8. While some of her students have participated in previous years, this will be other’s first drop.
“Our seventh and eighth graders are trying new things this year after learning what worked in previous years and they’re really determined to find a way to win,” said Wilson. “New to the event, our sixth graders are just eager to participate and test out their ideas.”
WVU’s chapter of Tau Beta Pi, a national engineering honor society, will be on site to recycle the material used for the pumpkins protective casings. Last year, Tau Beta Pi donated 16 trash bags of bedding and clothes to Goodwill, delivered two dump trucks of compostable material to the WVU Farm, filled an entire compacting recycling truck with cardboard and disposed of several dump trucks full of garbage.
Associate Professor Emeritus Wally Venable will serve as judge for this year’s event. Commemorative Pumpkin Drop t-shirts will be sold at the event with proceeds benefitting the Ronald McDonald House.
The event is sponsored by WVU’s student chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. ASME’s mission is to serve our diverse global communities by advancing, disseminating and applying engineering knowledge for improving the quality of life; and communicating the excitement of engineering.