Pumpkin, water balloons sacrificed in the name of science
Students might ordinarily get detention for tossing foreign objects out a third floor window at Watervliet High School. But not yesterday … an exception was made in the name of science.
While most students waited in the parking area below, physics teacher Frank Parisi and several other students stood in the window of a third floor classroom preparing to drop about a dozen balloons of varying sizes—some filled with water, others with air—a cantaloupe, an old computer speaker and—the star of the show—a large round pumpkin.
The group in the parking area—equipped with only a stop watch and a clipboard—watched carefully as one by one the water balloons rained down, followed by the melon, the speaker, a couple of more water balloons and finally, the show stopper—Mr. Pumpkin.
The experiment allowed students to test such basic principles of physics as constant acceleration of gravity as students clocked the time as each object fell to the ground. The students discovered that the objects—pretty much without fail—descended at the same rate regardless of mass.
Parisi said this experiment is typically popular with students and is a great teaching tool because of the entertainment value.