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Pumpkin Math is Elementary


It’s the great pumpkin, Southwood Elementary students, and it’s fun to weigh, measure and catapult through the air.

Second-grader Jermaine Feagin colors his gourd
Second-grader Jermaine Feagin colors his gourd

The school’s family event, “Math + Pumpkins = Best Night Ever!” put orange gourds at the focal point of learning, from guessing how many seeds they contain to finding just how much girth they have. Each student received a free pumpkin, to use in the math and decorating activities.

To culminate the evening, Rick Evans, whose daughter Katelyn Evans is a Southwood teacher, used his homemade catapult to launch pumpkins far into the schoolyard, measuring with markers how many meters they flew, to the “oohs” and “aahs” of students.

Kindergarten teacher Julie Van Lier said the event was a great way to involve families in math in a unique way with a fall theme. “It’s fun to estimate with a pumpkin, launch a pumpkin,” she said. “We wanted to do something real and meaningful.”

A student finds the circumference of a pumpkin
A student finds the circumference of a pumpkin

Southwood Elementary School fifth-grader Taeron Grays and his brother, second-grader Dontae Grays, watchedas their mother, Holly Grays, began wrapping a measuring tape around the middle of a fat orange pumpkin. “10 inches!” Taeron guessed its circumference. “32!” guessed Dontae.

The exact measurement: “26 inches,” announced Holly.

Then it was off to the scales, where Missy Limbacher, who works in the school lunchroom, challenged students to guess the weight of their gourds. “What do you think: 20 pounds, 30 pounds, 40 pounds?” she asked, as one by one students tested their pumpkins’ weight.

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Brandon and Kelsey Rickard decorate with their children, Nicholas, a kindergartner, and Natalie, 2

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.

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