CSU, Chico News

The 25th Annual Pumpkin Drop Scheduled for Halloween

Date: 10-22-2012

Kathleen McPartland
Public Affairs
Eric Ayars
Department of Physics

The Society of Physics Students presents the 25th Annual Pumpkin Drop at noon on Wednesday, Oct. 31, on the south side of Butte Hall at California State University, Chico. Join more than 200 elementary schoolchildren as they celebrate the smashing of pumpkins.

According to legend, Galileo Galilei demonstrated his Law of Falling Bodies by climbing to the top of the Tower of Pisa so that he could drop a large ball and a small ball at the same time. Both balls hit the ground together. Physics students will reenact this great moment in the history of science using pumpkins.

Albert Einstein, as played by an actor, will be the host as other actors representing Aristotle, Galileo and Newton each explain their theories of gravity. Aristotle maintained that an object falls with a speed proportionate to its weight. There are rumors of a growing argument between Galileo and Aristotle that will have to be settled by scientific experiment—chances are this experiment may be an added attraction.

For a grand finale, the physics students will demonstrate Galileo’s Law of Falling Bodies by dropping pumpkins in time to the cannon blasts of Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.

"The Society of Physics Students members have a great time putting this together,” said Eric Ayars, advisor to the students. “We usually have 200-plus elementary-school students who enjoy the carnage and collect trading cards distributed by the various scientists. The repeat attendance by many of the teachers seems to indicate that they consider it a valuable way to interest students in science."

For more information, contact Ayars at 530-898-6967 or visit the website of the Society of Physics Students at http://phys.csuchico.edu/sps/activities.shtml.