We’ve covered the history of the holiday, some sweet candy activities and even some fall STEM fun, but the humble pumpkin presents the opportunity to learn more about observation, weights and measures, and even math. We’ve outlined some of our favorite pumpkin and Jack-O-Lantern ideas just in time for fall.
3 Pumpkin Science Activities to Try this Halloween
Does a bigger pumpkin yield more seeds? Maybe – and there is one way to find out! Prepare to get messy as you slice a variety of pumpkins in half and count the seeds inside. Ask students to record the pumpkin’s weight and size before slicing, then work together to calculate the ratio of seeds per pound to answer the question.
Weights and Measures
For students learning how to observe and describe items, a selection of pumpkins can be examined and recorded. Looking at several different orange pumpkins and taking down data can help kids learn about the different ways similar objects can be differentiated. Pass out pumpkins and have kids weigh and measure them and record the heaviest, lightest, tallest and shortest. Some possible categories to check include:
- Height using a ruler
- Girth using a measuring tape
- Weight in grams, pounds and ounces
- Volume via water displacement
- Shape via visual examination
- Texture via touch
Many pumpkin activities are aimed at young children but this one is ideal for both middle and high school, too. By tracking the way a pumpkin behaves as it decomposes, kids can learn a variety of skills, from observation to recording data, and see how organic matter breaks down over time. This also makes an ideal post-Halloween fall project, since most families will be happy to part with their aging Jack-O-Lantern in the name of science.
Choose a location for your pumpkin and watch and record the changes each week; the Gift of Curiosity blog has some great photos and examples of this experiment done at home. For younger grades, the book Pumpkin Jack is an illustrated book that chronicles the same type of experiment, as a young boy watches his carved pumpkin die and regrow into a fresh new plant.
We’re here to help you make this Halloween your best yet; check out our Lesson Plans Board for more pumpkin science ideas!