• Pumpkin Science


    October is Science month and this month is all about the pumpkin. You cannot go anywhere without finding pumpkins for sale. Heck, even our big-box hardware store has them. Even if you don’t celebrate Halloween, you can snag a pumpkin and turn it into a learning experience. Never has one squash offered so much educational value for a low price. Stand back and be prepared for PUMPKIN SCIENCE!

    First, some pumpkin history. They are believed to have originated in North America and seeds have been found in Mexico as far back at 7000-5500 BC. We have loved this squash for a VERY LONG TIME. Native Americans used every bit of the pumpkin and it wasn’t just for eating. Settlers were introduced to them and they soon became a staple in every home. There are at least 45 varieties of pumpkin, ranging in size from tiny teacup to as large as a SMART car. Not all are edible. Morton, Illinois is the self-proclaimed pumpkin capital of the world with 90-95% of its crops being pumpkins. THAT is a lot of pumpkin(click this link for fun ideas for the pumpkin patch).

    5 Fun Pumpkin Facts:

    • Pumpkins(click this link for Fall learning activities inc. pumpkins) are 90% water
    • 80% of the pumpkin supply is available in October
    • Pumpkins are a member of the Cucurbita family which includes squash and cucumbers
    • Pumpkins contain potassium and Vitamin A
    • Pumpkin flowers are edible

    So, you took my advice and went out and bought a pumpkin. Now what? Turn this into science.

    • Weigh the pumpkin.
    • Measure the height, diameter, circumference and size of stem.
    • Note the color. Is it even or discolored. And if discolored, why?
    • Decide how to cut it open. If you want to carve it, great. If you want to just slice in half and use for baking later, that works too.
    • Notice the smell.
    • Taste(not recommended to actually eat) the raw pumpkin.
    • Check out the texture. Is it warm, cool, soft, hard, slimey?
    • Pull out the seeds. Set aside.
    • Scoop out the “guts” and you can toss to your wildlife or farm animals. It is a welcome treat. No need to waste it.
    • You want to carve it. Do so now. FYI: There are several ways you can preserve it so it lasts longer. THAT can be a whole other science experiment in itself.
    • Not into carving, then prepare it for baking/roasting.

    Want to bake it. Once cooled, you can turn it into pumpkin pie, bread or cake. Roasting, you can cube and eat it like any roasted vegetable or squash. You can also puree it and turn it into a soup. You can finely dice it and ADD to an existing soup. Create your own recipe for using the pumpkin.

    Remember those seeds I said to set aside? Clean them, roast them. You can eat them, YUMMY with a little salt or other spice! You can use them for math and/or art once dried(no salt or spices). You can set them out for the birds or wildlife.

    Did you carve it? NICE JOB! But guess what is going to happen? It is going to start to ROT. SQUEEE! That means MORE SCIENCE. Oooey-gooey science. You can count how many days it takes to rot. You can carefully check out the mold spores and types of mold growing on it. Did you attempt to preserve it to last longer? Did it work? You can set out the rotting carved pumpkin where bugs can start to help the process. Which bugs showed up? Are they helping or just exploring?

    As you can see, there are a lot of ways to use a pumpkin for science. Or just about any other educational lesson. Math, History, Reading, Home Ec, Science, and even Spelling. Based on all the fun ideas I wrote above, you might want to grab several pumpkins and expand on the science!

    Hope you have a SQUASHINGLY good time learning with pumpkins!

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