Nearly 400 pumpkins will be raining from the sky during West Virginia University’s annual Pumpkin Drop on Friday, October 28. The event will begin at 9 a.m., on the bridge adjacent to the Engineering Sciences Building on the Evansdale Campus.
The event, hosted by the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, will bring together elementary, middle and high school teams from across the state and region to test protective designs for their pumpkins outside of the classroom.
Mike Revak, advanced placement psychics teacher at Albert Gallatin High School in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, has been bringing his students to the event for 18 years and has no plans to stop. He encourages his students to attend the event, not only to toss their pumpkins off the roof, but also to experience real-life applications of physics and to give them a taste of what WVU has to offer. Participation in the event has inspired several of Revak’s students to pursue degrees in engineering.
“Some former students of Albert Gallatin High School have moved on to WVU as engineering students,” said Revak. “Some have even given us tours of the engineering campus during the event. “
After months of preparation inside the classroom, Hundred High School teacher Rex Rush, a third-year Pumpkin Drop participant, hopes to inspire his students in a similar way.
“I hope our students gain a better understanding of the laws of physics while working as productive group members,” said Rush. “It’s important for students to experience some of the facilities at WVU to get them excited about STEM and hopefully help them choose a pathway after high school. “
The students are not the only ones to reap the benefits of the annual event. Since its inaugural year, the proceeds from the event have supported the Ronald McDonald House in Morgantown. Additional funds will be raised from the sale of commemorative Pumpkin Drop t-shirts. Eleanor Reigel, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House, will be attending the event to deliver this year’s opening speech and to cheer on the teams.
“I love the enthusiasm that each child brings with their pumpkin contraption. The energy and excitement is contagious! I love the teamwork that is displayed by each school, the sense of friendly competition, the hands-on learning and the philanthropic spirit,” said Reigel. “We are humbled to work with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers each year to give a philanthropic aspect to an already meaningful day.”
New to the event this year will be a STEM Zone hosted by various engineering student organizations on campus. After students drop their pumpkins, they will get the opportunity to try hands on activities such as designing paper airplanes and exploring virtual reality machines. The STEM Zone will be held on the ground floor of ESB in the area adjacent to the Freshman Learning Center.
Members of Tau Beta Pi, WVU’s chapter of the national engineering honors society, will be on site to assist with clean up. Recyclable materials used for the pumpkin’s protective casing will be collected and donated to local charitable organizations.
Wally Venable, associate professor emeritus, will serve as judge for this year’s event. Venable has judged the competition for the past 29 years.
The event is sponsored by WVU’s student chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. ASME’s mission is to serve diverse global communities by advancing, disseminating and applying engineering knowledge for improving the quality of life and communicating the excitement of engineering.
CONTACT: Mary C. Dillon, Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
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