Simple Fall Science: A Mini Pumpkin Investigation
By Jen Kossowan, Mama.Papa.Bubba
Oct 27, 2016
Pumpkin season means pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie, and pumpkin carving, but what about some pumpkin science?! This fun pumpkin investigation is quite simple in terms of required materials and setup, but it's always a huge hit with little ones, so it offers lots of bang for your buck. Throughout the investigation, your child will have a chance to do many of the things real scientists do — make observations, draw and label diagrams, measure, compare, estimate, observe, and describe — all while exploring a mini pumpkin of their own!
Here’s what you’ll need to conduct your pumpkin investigation:
- a mini pumpkin
- our ‘My Pumpkin Investigation’ recording sheet
- a pencil
- a measuring tape
- a magnifying glass (optional, but fun)
- a sharp knife
- a spoon or scoop
- a bowl
- a tray
With all of our materials collected, let’s begin the investigation, shall we? Start by inviting your child to investigate the outside of their pumpkin. Together, talk about its shape, its size, its stem, and any special features or markings it has before carefully drawing it. During the drawing process, remind your little one to draw the pumpkin exactly as they see it instead of just drawing a generic pumpkin from memory. Depending on your child’s age and abilities, he or she may want to label the diagram as well. When ready, colour the diagram to match the real life pumpkin.
Next up, take out your measuring tape! If measuring tapes are new to your child, take a moment to look at the measuring tape and talk about what it’s used for and how it’s used before jumping in. Then, when ready, go ahead and measure your pumpkin’s stem and circumference (this job may require two sets of hands) and record the findings on your observation sheet.
Alright, now to investigate the pumpkin’s weight! This is always one of my favourite parts of the investigation because it allows children to get up, move around the room, and use common objects in an untraditional way. The goal? Finding something in your home that feels like it’s as heavy as your pumpkin is. The process might take some time and require several comparison tests, but that’s all part of the fun and learning. (Pro tip: If your child is particularly interested in this part of the process, creating a very simple balance scale using a plastic coat hanger and two grocery shopping bags will take the experience to the next level.)
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Now that you’ve thoroughly investigated the outside of our pumpkin, it’s time to investigate the inside. Lob the top off and invite your child to take a good look inside before drawing their observations, just as they did before.
Next is the tricky part… Guessing how many seeds are inside!
Make and record your prediction and then scoop all of the pumpkin guts out into a bowl. Now roll up your sleeves and prepare to get messy… It’s time to sort the guck from the seeds! While working on this step, you may want to arrange the seeds on your tray in groups of ten — it certainly makes the counting process much easier afterwards. Once you’ve got your seed total, reflect on your prediction. Were you close?
Now that you’re an expert on your pumpkin, it’s time for the final step. Thinking about your special pumpkin, how would you describe it to others? Depending on your little one’s ability and comfort level, these descriptive words can be written independently using inventive spelling, written with some help, or recorded by you.
Your pumpkin investigation is now complete! Now for your next job… Figuring out how to put your emptied pumpkin to good use. Will it become a mini jack-o-lantern? Will you fill it with soil and plant something inside? Will you cut it up and roast it? The options really are endless, but whatever you choose — enjoy!
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