Charleston-area students will engage in some very hands-on learning Thursday, Oct. 19, when they line up to heave pumpkins off the third-floor roof of the state Capitol.

The occasion? The ninth annual Capital City Pumpkin Drop.

The contests sponsors include the Education Alliance, Bayer CropScience and the West Virginia University Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Tom Dover, public affairs director for Bayer, will be the announcer for the event.

Students will use creative math and science skills to build containers that will protect the pumpkins from the impact of the fall. The object of the competition is to drop the pumpkin closest to the target and have it stay intact. The surviving pumpkin that lands closest to the target will be declared the winner.

All contests have rules, and the Pumpkin Drop is no exception. Pumpkins must be 8 inches in diameter; no Styrofoam peanuts or other small nonbiodegradable materials may be used in packaging; and pumpkins must free fall (no bungee cords allowed).

For complete rules and registration information, click onPumpkin Drop.

Check-in for the event begins at 10 a.m. on Capitol Circle (north side of the Capitol), and the drops begin at noon. With more than 25 schools registered from 14 different counties, a record-breaking 800 students are expected to attend.

The first-prize winner will receive $100; second prize is $75; and third prize is $50. All winners will also receive a trophy.

For more information call Terri McCloy, Education Alliance director of development, at 304-342-7850 or 1-866-314-5437.