The Great Pumpkin of Fall 2020
[October 14, 2020] We have 3 winners of the Great Pumpkin Guessing game! Their guesses were the 3 closest to the final weight of 47.69 kg. They each receive on of the new t-shirts “A Solar Spill is Just a Nice Day“.
– Regina Baratta – Middle School Science Teacher, North Carolina
– Marin Jeong – student, La Crescenta, CA
– Woody Williams – retired teacher, Long Beach, CA
I honestly was oblivious that my wife Dena had scored some Big Max pumpkin seeds in the Spring and planted a few in one of our garden boxes. Unlike the recent winner at the World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-off in Half Moon Bay (1066 kg), we did not water it 10x each day nor add extra fertilizer. Just a small bit of drip irrigation daily watering. This was by far the largest pumpkin that has emerged from our garden..ever.
To weigh this behemoth made us scratch our heads. We couldn’t put it on a normal household scale because we wouldn’t be able to see the numbers. The shipping scales we had only went to 70 lbs (~32kg) and we thought it would weigh more than that since we couldn’t lift it. We ended up using a balance beam, finding the center of gravity to balance on, then balancing it again. First we put the pumpkin on one end. Then it was Tor’s turn to see who weighed more. Tor won (~ 100kg). Then it was Dena’s turn. Dena Won (~ 61 kg). Then we individually weighed a series of concrete tiles we had nearby, added a box of books, and finished with a pan and some water to tune it to the final weight. Adding up the weight of all these items = 47.69 kg (or 105.15 lbs). We used our calibrated shipping scale for reference to weight the tiles, books, and water. This same technique can be used to measure smaller items in your classroom for a student activity. The conversion factor is 2.2046 lb = 1 kg.
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