Published October 2022
Early in the morning on Monday, October 31, students at Kyrene de los Cerritos Leadership Academy in Ahwatukee poured into the campus courtyard for their first pumpkin drop. The pumpkin drop was the final step in a schoolwide STEM project.
“Cerritos is developing an emphasis in STEM on our campus,” Principal Amy Gingell said. “The pumpkin drop was the perfect opportunity for us to get the kids excited about STEM in a fun, fall-themed way.”
Much like the classic egg drop project, students were tasked with collaborating with their peers to design an apparatus that would protect a small pumpkin from being broken or smashed when dropped from a considerable height. In this case, the pumpkins had to survive the drop from the roof of the school’s media center. Dropping the pumpkins onto a drop cloth with a painted target was Assistant Principal Tim O’Donnell.
One apparatus was designed per classroom in each grade level. The apparatuses had to fit specific parameters and be made of approved supplies, be openable within 30 seconds so that staff could quickly determine if the pumpkins survived the fall. Some of the supplies used by students to cushion their pumpkins fall were stuffed animals, a helmet, packing materials like bubble wrap, and foam pool noodles.
“This was a class challenge, and one of the goals was to teach kids to communicate with one another,” Principal Gingell shared. “The planning process happened as a whole class and it was a great opportunity for the kids to collaboratively work on a project together.
Once all the pumpkins were dropped, Principal Gingell congratulated the students on their hard work and successful collaboration. Out of the 18 apparatuses that were created, only six were unsuccessful in protecting the pumpkin from breaking during the fall.
Cerritos classrooms are grouped into Explorer Crews, which work to earn badges throughout the school year. All crews received a level two STEM badge for completing the project and the red crew was awarded a special Crew Pumpkin Drop Challenge Winner badge for all members having successful drops. These badges are now part of each crew’s collection that is displayed in the school’s main hallway on a tally board for all to see.