Eagle View Elementary School first-graders used engineering to attempt to keep pumpkins from smashing to bits during the popular pumpkin drop held Thursday, Oct. 31, behind the school.

The annual activity concludes a lesson on engineering where students learn what engineers are and then study protective materials before creating “pumpkin packages” to drop from a 6-foot platform. Classes brainstorm different materials that could keep a pumpkin from cracking or splatting when dropped from a height of around 6 feet.

“We do use the pumpkins we have left over from the annual pumpkin sale,” said teacher Erin Traxler. “It's a good way to put those to use and not have them go to waste.”

During the event, students are ramped up and anyone outside at the time hears chants of “Drop it!” Students collectively cheer every time a pumpkin survives.

“The students love to see if their package works or not,” Traxler said. “They love to cheer each other on. They are also fascinated that they are going to be able to stand up on the ladder and drop their pumpkin. They look forward to it. It's a great day.”

Like scientists, these students follow a set of rules and track the results of each drop.

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“Our students are given a packet at the beginning of the project with each step in it and the rules and directions they have to follow, the criteria,” Traxler said. “As part of that, in the end there are several numbered lines with pumpkins on each line where a student will circle a smiley face if the pumpkin did not break, a regular face if it cracked and a sad face if it smashed open. They were able to keep track of each group and see which class had the most packages that worked and the ones that did not.”

Students dropped 35 pumpkins, with those in Kerry Holubar's class having the most pumpkins landing unscathed. After the student pumpkins are dropped, students get particularly excited about two special pumpkins.

“At the very end, after all our groups have gone and have had a chance to test their pumpkin package, our custodian, John, goes up to the roof and drops pumpkin packages the teachers have built,” Traxler said. “Of course, the teachers' pumpkin packages never actually protect the pumpkins dropped off the roof. The students love to see even though we try to use the same materials they did, our packages don't protect the pumpkins.”

A school custodian later collected some pumpkins to feed to his turkeys.