ASHTON — Students from Hannan Junior/Senior High School (HJ/SHS) “smashed” this year’s competition at the 22nd annual Pumpkin Smash at the West Virginia Pumpkin Festival.
“It is a statewide engineering challenge,” said Ian Duff, science teacher. “The main task is to develop a contraption that a pumpkin will survive a drop of 50 feet onto a concrete surface.”
The students designed three different contraptions and dropped three pumpkins at the competition.
“Our first one was a box with plenty of insulation inside to keep it from impacting, with a PVC cube on the outside, with ropes tied all around to keep it secured instead of bungee cords,” said Caleb Cordell, junior at Hannan. “The main challenge of this was using sustainable and recyclable products in the actual contraption itself.”
The students competed against nine other pumpkins with seven high schools.
“[A] paper Easter basket filled with crinkle paper, but it was cardboard,” said MacKenzie Simmons, senior. “We stuck it to the middle with the cardboard box. We put the pumpkin in it and topped it off with more and then we decorated boxes. We cut the sponges in half and then used cardboard tape.”
The students were most confident in the one they named the “Cup one.”
“We had the cardboard filler, the newspaper filler and percussion inside of the box,” said Rachel Ellis, senior. “We taped it and put the rope around it and we filled it, we have paper cups that would use like a crimple layer, kinda like a crush layer. Hopefully to take most of the impact, which for the most part it did.”
The Cup one had a “little split” after the drop Ellis said, making it the most protective.
The students had high hopes for the PVC pip contraption, the first one, that did not happen.
“[It landed on the] corner of the box bounced off the ground,” Ellis said. “The PVC pipe broke and a piece shattered and we were hoping that it still made it because we didn’t’ see it, but he held up the thing and it said it splattered.”
“If it wouldn’t have hit a corner, it would’ve worked better,” said Isabella Nagy, senior.
Each team was scored out of 100 points.
Hannan scored 90 points, the highest of any team, but due to the damage to the pumpkins the team was bumped down to third place.
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Brittany Hively is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Follow or on Twitter @britthively or reach her at (740) 444-4303 ext 2555.