Its the Great Pumpkin...at University Elementary School!

Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on October 23, 2013 1:57 PM

Dean Carlos Ayala with pumpkin

October is pumpkin season, and Sonoma County has many fun field trip options for school groups to visit pumpkin patches to celebrate the harvest season. But this week, the pumpkin came to school. Carlos Ayala, Dean of the School of Education at Sonoma State grew this one in his garden, and decided to give it to the kids at University Elementary School at La Fiesta. And this is no ordinary gourd: it is huge!

Pumpkins can spark the imagination of children. When he brought this one to the school, the kids wanted to climb on top of it and ride it like a pony! Teachers can use pumpkins to start a line of inquiry with kids, driven by their own natural curiosity: What do you do to get your pumpkins to grow that large? How many seeds are inside of it? How did you weigh it? How do you move it? How many days does it take to grow?

team moving the pumpkin

Without a scale, how can you weigh such a big vegetable? Thankfully there are some clever online tools to help calculate the weight of a giant pumpkin based on specific measurements. One such web based weight calculator can be found at Overthetop.com. Based on the measurements, this grand gourd weighs in at 200 lbs.

How can you move a big pumpkin like that? Carlos used teamwork, employing a traditional Amish method for moving heavy objects by rolling it onto a sturdy canvas fabric, with many people working together to grasp the fabric's edge and lift it up, distributing the weight. As a team, the adults were able to bring the pumpkin into the classroom.

The school might raffle off the pumpkin before Halloween as a fundraiser. No doubt the winner of the raffle will need to get a cloth and practice that Amish method to get the pumpkin moved all the way home.