Early exposure to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics has been proven to better equip children in understanding STEM concepts. Fun, hands-on learning, through age-appropriate material can inspire enthusiasm and confidence while developing STEM skills and encouraging future interest. The Big Book of 4-H Cloverbud Activities (available through OSU Extension Offices or https://extensionpubs.osu.edu) is bursting with activities to explore STEM education. Add a twist for the fall by incorporating pumpkin-themed activities as described below.
Prior to this activity, cut a medium size pumpkin in half. Remove the seeds and gooey fibrous strands from one-half. Separate the seeds from the strands. Wash the seeds and allow them to dry on a paper towel. Place the fibrous strands in a container. Have the children look at the other half of the pumpkin. Explain that a pumpkin is a squash. Talk about the parts of the pumpkin. Bring out the container of fibrous strands. Place one-half cup of the substance in a blender. Add one cup of water. Blend the mixture until it becomes a liquid. Following the Flubber recipe in The Wonder of Water lesson, substitute ¼ cup of the pumpkin mixture for ¼ cup of cool water. Use 2-3 drops of red or orange food coloring instead of drink mix. Extend this activity by using the seeds that were set aside to make a Seed Mosaic as described in the Super Seed Fun lesson.
Children can “go beyond” this lesson at home by working with their parents to color a pumpkin online at https://www.thecolor.com/Coloring/Pumpkin.aspx or carve a pumpkin at http://www.primarygames.com/holidays/halloween/games/carving/
Discuss fruits and vegetables that are harvested in the fall in Ohio (Fall Festival: A Harvest of Fun lesson). Talk about or visit a local pumpkin patch. Play a pumpkin patch game. Build a pumpkin catapult using a plastic cup, sturdy tape, and a plastic spoon. Turn the cup over. Tape the spoon handle to the bottom of the cup. Place an orange pom-pom into the bowl of the spoon. Set a pan a few inches away to serve as the pumpkin patch. Press on the spoon bowl. Watch the “pumpkin” soar into the pumpkin patch.
Choose three different size pumpkins. Discuss ways the pumpkins are alike or different. Have the children stand first in front of the largest, then smallest, and last the medium size pumpkin. Ask them which pumpkin they think weighs the most. Talk about tools that can be used to measure the height, width (circumference), and weight of the pumpkins. Help the children use a ruler, measuring tape, and scale to determine the measurements.
Conclude this celebration of Pumpkin S.T.E.M. bounty with a pumpkin themed book from your local library and a tasty pumpkin seed snack.