Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pumpkin Science

Scientific Discovery and Investigation with Pumpkins

Sink or Float:
Divide students into small groups. Provide a water-filled container large enough to hold pumpkins, a pumpkin or the students’ individual pumpkins, paper towels, crayons or markers, and pencils. Ask students to turn to a blank page in their pumpkin journals and answer the following questions: Do you think a pumpkin will sink or float in water? Why? Next have them rest their pumpkins on top of the water while holding onto the stems. On the count of 3, have them release their pumpkins. Discuss the results of the experiment as a class. Then ask each student to remove his/her pumpkin from the water and dry it off. Then have each child summarize and illustrate the activity in the remaining space on his/her journal page.

Pumpkin questions to Investigate
1. Predict how much your pumpkin weighs. Then weigh it on a bathroom scales.
2. Name the properties of the pumpkin.
3. How does the pumpkin feel?
4. How does the pumpkin smell?
5. How does the pumpkin taste?
6. What does the pumpkin look like on the inside?
7. Does the pumpkin have seeds?
8. To get inside the pumpkin, cut off the top.
9. Does a pumpkin grow underground--or on top?
10. Does a pumpkin grow on a vine, a bush, or where?
11. Are all seeds inside a pumpkin the same size?
12. Will a small pumpkin have small seeds in it as compared to a large pumpkin?
13. What could you do with the insides of a pumpkin?
14. What could you do with the seeds?
15. Predict how many seeds are in your pumpkin. Count your seeds. How close did you come?
16. Now cook your seeds. Be sure to taste the seeds before you cook them, then taste them after you cook them. Is there any difference in taste? [Cook the seeds in a popcorn popper with butter or oil.]
17. Plant your seeds. Plant some of the cooked seeds to see what will happen. Are the seeds scattered randomly within a pumpkin or arranged in some sort of pattern?
18. Do big pumpkins have larger seeds than small pumpkins?
19. Is there anything in a pumpkin which lines up with the creases on the outside?
20. What does a pumpkin seed weigh?
21. How many seeds does a pumpkin contain?
22. Do all pumpkins have the same number of seeds?
23. Can you tell which side of a pumpkin was against the ground? How? Does the stem help you figure it out?
24. Will pumpkins float in water? If they do, do they float stem up, stem down, or stem sideways?
25. Can pumpkin seeds be sorted into groups?
26. How thick is the skin of a pumpkin? How far in is the meat?
27. Place an empty wastebasket in a dishpan. Fill the wastebasket to the rim with water. Place a pumpkin into the water. Measure the volume of water displaced. This will be the volume of the pumpkin. Find the volume of several pumpkins. What relationship is there between weight and volume?
28. Do birds eat pumpkin seeds?
29. Make a list of the properties of a pumpkin and give it to someone. Can they guess what the object is?
30. Will pumpkin seeds grow if planted right away?
31. What folklore can you find about pumpkins?
32. Where did pumpkins come from originally?
33. What other plants do we eat which are related to pumpkins?
34. What is a pepo?
35. If every seed in a pumpkin grew into a plant which produced one pumpkin and each of the seeds produced a plant which did the same, how many seeds would be produced?
36. What other pumpkin investigations can you think up?

Physical science: Investigation and experimentation: sink/float, color, shapes, sizes, textures, # seeds, line up with ribs? and much more.

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