News, WVU News

350 teams compete in Pumpkin Drop

MORGANTOWN — You know what you get when you drop a pumpkin from the roof of an 11-story building?
But if you find yourself in good standing with the Great Pumpkin, and you’ve carefully crafted a contraption that is properly padded and parachuted, your falling fruit just might survive its reunion with terra firma.
At least that was the goal Friday as 350 teams representing elementary, middle and high schools from across the region converged on WVU’s Engineering Sciences Building for a little fall-themed fun with a science kicker.
As an added nod to All Hallow’s Eve, this happened to be the 31st annual Pumpkin Drop. It was also the biggest, according to Paige Nesbit, design coordinator with the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.
“It really seems to grow every single year. We have about 350 teams participating from schools from all over, including Pittsburgh and even one school from Texas. The rest are from the tri-state area,” Nesbit said as she made her way through a procession of pumpkin pilots shuffling up to the launch site.
Hundreds of students, teachers and curious passers-by were gathered an appropriate distance from the building’s base — safely near the donut and cider tent — to take in the gravity-defying gourds.
Engineering student organizations were also scattered about with various science-related activities on offer.
Nesbit said along with the laughs, the Pumpkin Drop’s aim has always been to get students thinking about engineering and other STEM fields — and if a few take up that pursuit at WVU, all the better.
In the meantime, it’s fly-pumpkin-fly.
“Even when they fail it’s phenomenal because they’re decorative, they get really creative and really innovative in the ways they try to protect those pumpkins,” she said. “It’s hilarious. It’s so much fun and the kids really do enjoy it so much.”
Local teams ended up taking two of the top three spots, with a squad from South Middle School (Team 314) earning $100 for landing its pumpkin just one foot from the bullseye. Team 35 from Saint Francis Central Catholic took second and Tyler Consolidated High School, in Sistersville, took third.
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