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Pumpkin Drop Mayhem Hitting Campus on Thursday

Last year's winning pumpkin-catching contraption.

Student-built pumpkin catchers, some of them intricately designed and elaborately decorated and others hardly more than cardboard boxes filled with hay, will try to give soft landings to pumpkins dropped from atop the Batten Arts and Letters Building in the annual Old Dominion University Society of Physics Students Pumpkin Drop on Thursday, Oct. 27, beginning at 12:30 p.m.

For the event, teams of students design and build the pumpkin catchers, which serve as targets for other students who drop pumpkins from the roof of the nine-story BAL. Sometimes the catchers do their jobs, but many of the contraptions end up smashed, just like the pumpkins that hit them. Spectators can congregate on the BAL lawn to watch the mayhem.

As befits a serious scientific investigation, physics students will conduct several experiments using the plummeting pumpkins. In addition to studying the effectiveness of different pumpkin catcher designs for harmlessly dissipating the pumpkins' kinetic energy, they also will insert a video camera in a pumpkin to provide a pumpkin's eye view of the fall and repeat Galileo's well-known gravitation experiment.

Prizes or extra credit will be awarded for the best pumpkin catchers.

To learn more about the Society of Physics Students and the Pumpkin Drop, visit http://sci.odu.edu/physics/opportunities/sps/.

This article was posted on: October 24, 2011

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