Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween is Almost Here!

It’s that time of year! It’s pumpkin carving season in Wisconsin. Pumpkins size, color, texture, smell, and taste make them perfect for children’s observations and explorations. But before you toss out all those pumpkin seeds leftover from carving, consider using this great math activity as a learning experience for your students!


At least 2-3 pumpkins per student group (students should be divided into groups of 3-5)
Safe carving knife for cutting open pumpkins
Scooping spoons to remove seeds from pumpkins
Paper and pencils to record observations


--To introduce the activity, have the class discuss what pumpkins look like from the outside and what they might look like on the inside.

--Use roasting and eating pumpkin seeds as an example. If they wanted to go into a grocery store and find a pumpkin with many seeds, how would they know which one to choose?
--The goal of this activity is to determine what characteristics would help predict the number of seeds in a pumpkin.

--Have the students discuss the various ways they could measure and describe the pumpkin. For example, what is the weight, how tall is it, what is the color and the shape, etc.

--The individual groups will then decide on 5 questions to investigate. For example, “How tall?”, “How big around?”, “How many lines around the pumpkin?” Have the students make a graph of these questions and their results for each pumpkin.
--If the group decides to measure the pumpkins, the students can use string to make the measurements, plot the string lengths on a meter stick or yardstick, and translate the findings to the group's chart.

Pumpkin 1
Pumpkin 2
Pumpkin 3
1. How tall?
2. How big around?
3. What color?
4. What is the weight?
5. How many lines on the outside?
1st Seed Count (Prediction)
2nd Seed Count (Estimation)
3rd Seed Count (Exact Total)

--When data collection is complete and recorded, each group will predict the number of seeds in the pumpkin and discuss possible connections between the number of seeds and the pumpkin’s characteristics.

--Cut the pumpkins open, scoop out the seeds and pulp, separate the seeds and pulp and let the seeds dry. Each group can then count the seeds for a total.
You can also have the group estimate the number of seeds they scoop out and then count for an exact number

--Post all the groups charts and results. Compare the exact number of pumpkin seeds with the predictions and estimations. Ask some of the following questions:
How different are the totals?
Do pumpkins with similar characteristics have similar seed counts?
Is there any relationship between pumpkin characteristics and the number of seeds?

But the activities don’t have to end there! You can have the students carve the pumpkins for an art lesson and then display them throughout the school or let them take them home. You can also roast the seeds in a cooking class. Check out our simple, easy pumpkin seed roasting recipe below. Be sure to have a “spooktacular” Halloween!

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Ingredients (Makes 4 servings)
1 ½ cups raw pumpkin seeds, dried
2 teaspoons butter, melted
1 pinch salt

1) Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
2) Toss seeds in a bowl with melted butter and salt. Spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.
3) Let cool and enjoy!

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