Pumpkins fly in Skaneateles

Fall bounty launches learning at Skaneateles High

There was suspense, laughter, pride and accomplishment in the afternoon drizzle outside Skaneateles High School recently when advanced engineering students used their technical skills to put on a harvest show of sorts.

The event: pumpkin chucking.

The means: elaborately designed machines (sometimes called trebuchets).

"Chucking the pumpkins was fun, but it was just the end result of a project with many facets," Matt Slauson, technology teacher, explained after the "show." Students, teachers and administrators had watched for almost an hour as students in Slauson's Engineering Design and Development class launched pumpkins across a field. Some shot out long-distance while others fell short of expectations and one surprised all by shooting backwards.

The research and design problem-solving project asked seniors in the research class to design a device to throw a pumpkin the farthest distance. "How they accomplished this was up to them. I chose this problem because I thought it would be a fun way to get students interested in research," said Slauson.

The project required students to use information learned from a previous three years in the Project Lead the Way Pre-Engineering program.

"We don't normally display the results of our students' projects until the end of the school year when they have completed their major design project, but we made an exception for this," Slauson said. The school PRIDE committee used the project to create school unity. Students in homerooms decorated pumpkins to be launched by the engineering students.

According to Slauson, the class had to:

Research the problem and create design proposals, consult with an engineering expert about the design and create solid models of the design (information from the IED class).

Design and build a digital circuit as a warning device (information used from the Digital electronics class).

Calculate and be able to predict the flight of the pumpkin using ballistics calculations (information from the principles of engineering class).

Build parts for the machine ( information from CIM)

Write a formal research paper that documents their design and the results of the activity. (EDD)

Standing on machine Kelsey McConnaghy, Ben Mullen Behind machine, Emma Carro right ... preparing for a launch

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