Guam – Hand woven baskets, exercise bands, and even marshmallows were used to protect pumpkins dropped from 30 feet in the air at Guam High School today as a Pumpkin Drop was held in the DODEA school’s back parking lot.
The challenge was presented to the high school by the Navy Seabees as part of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Program.
“Its a very hard difficult project but its gonna challenge them with teamwork and problem solving,” Naval Base Guam Public Works Officer LCDR Chris Coggins told PNC.
“They’re analyzing a situation, they’re analyzing the variables, they’re controlling the variables that they can control and they’re influencing the ones that they can’t control.”
Twelve teams participated in the challenge and all of their pumpkins weighed a maximum of five pounds and had a maximum diameter of ten inches. The techniques for protecting the pumpkins however were all different.
“We had actual parachute bungees to help absorb the shock from the fall,” 11th grader Agnes Neal said while showing the design for team The Ultimate Element. “The net was made from a trampoline net because we didn’t have an actual net, and then there’s just a blanket in there to help more absorb, and the box is just spring boards with a lot of glue and nails and screws.”
“We have a completely natural design other than this duct tape,” said 11th grader Tyler Nowling of team Blast Off. Nowling’s team created a parachute woven out of palm prawns with a woven basket balanced underneath to protect their pumpkin.
While both parachutes deployed, neither pumpkin survived the fall.
The Pumpkin Patch kids found that exercise bands, a laundry basket, water bottles, and marshmallows were the winning combination as theirs was one of three pumpkins unscathed by the drop.
“We’re trying to extend it with exercise bands so that as it falls the energys transferred into the bands instead of into the pumpkin,” Pumpkin Patch member Katrina Toiver, a senior, told PNC ahead of the drop. “Then we used a lot of marshmallows to comfort it and to make sure that it doesn’t get smushed.”
Teams No Break and BAMM! also landed pumpkins in pristine condition. A number of pumpkins appeared fine at first glance but suffered cracks from the drop. None of them smashed as badly as the first, unprotected pumpkin, which was dropped before the student’s pumpkins started falling.
“I hope they really take away to learn from their mistakes and apply those to the future on their future designs,” LCDR Coggins said as the Pumpkin Drop came to an end.