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November 1, 2012

Gory gourds: Utica Elementary students dig into pumpkins

JEFFERSONVILLE — After all the scientists had measured and weighed their victims, they cut in, gutted them and took count of the contents to see if their size made any difference.

They sound mad, but they were just fifth-graders diving into pumpkins on Halloween.

Students at Utica Elementary School conducted experiments on pumpkins to see if their size had anything to do with the number of seeds inside.

Allen Keith, a fifth-grade teacher at the school, said students liked finding the circumference, height and weight of their pumpkins, but getting orange goop on them is always their favorite part.

“They’re all just hands-on at this age,” Keith said. “So many kids like to get their hands on things and a lot of them don’t get to help in the kitchen much anymore, so this is new to some of them.”

Keith said students often find there is no correlation between size and seeds, but the kids have fun and get to take their seeds home to roast, if they so choose.

Kamie Thompson, a fifth-grader, had a three-pound pumpkin. She said she expected maybe 70 seeds because of its size, but found 280 in the guts of her pumpkin.

“I didn’t think there would be more [seeds] in a small one,” Thompson said. “I don’t know if size really affects it. A lot of pumpkins have a lot of seeds, but I wouldn’t expect that a small one would have all these seeds.”

Oliver Sabol, another fifth-grader, said he got similar results. His two-pound pumpkin yielded 224 seeds. Though he said he was surprised at the results, he said the measuring wasn’t the best part of the experiment.

“I would say the gutting was the best because you get dirty, and I like getting dirty,” Sabol said.

Josh Emily, another fifth-grade teacher, said he liked the idea of the project because it’s another way to interject science into something they might not think of that way.

“I think that’s the key, to bring science into everyday life,” Emily said. “Here, we had a simple idea — come up with an experiment and figure out how to execute it.”

Keith said bringing science down to earth is something teachers always strive to do.

“We hope they’ll think a lot more about science in their everyday lives,” Keith said. “That’s kind of the goal.”

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