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Chico State

Annual Pumpkin Drop to Serve as Science on Display for Local Elementary Students

Pieces of smashed pumpkins lie on a tarp during the annual Pumpkin Drop on the Chico State campus.
Jason Halley / University Photographer

Society of Physics Students and the Department of Physics at Chico State in a comedic and educational experiment to test how and why things fall drop plenty of falling pumpkins from Butte Hall during the 30th Annual Pumpkin Drop on Tuesday, October 31, 2017 in Chico, Calif. (Jason Halley/University Photographer)

California State University, Chico is proud to feature facilities for faculty and students collaborate to conduct hands-on, cutting-edge research that leads to scientific advances and contributions for the greater good.

On Halloween, it’ll also be a place to smash squash in the name of education.

The 31st annual Pumpkin Drop will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 31, at noon in front of Trinity Commons on the CSU, Chico campus. As always, hundreds of elementary school students from across the North State are expected to descend on campus to share in the science on display.

Nick Nelson, professor in the Department of Physics, calls the Pumpkin Drop a “light-hearted exploration of theories of gravity,” looking closely at their evolution from Aristotle’s ancient Greek theory and Galileo’s revolutionary idea (all objects experience gravitational free-fall the same way) to Isaac Newton’s law of universal gravitation and Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

“The Pumpkin Drop is a series of experiments testing gravity with plenty of smashed pumpkins at the end,” Nelson said.

The University’s Society of Physics Students and the Department of Physics will once again co-host the event, scheduled to last about 30-45 minutes.

This year’s event includes added focus on the diversity of today’s physics students, and will highlight how scientific theories are formulated and then tested. A mechanical lift will allow the pumpkins to get higher (and drop farther) than ever before, and there will be an “intermission” during which, Nelson said, “we will be freezing pumpkins and other everyday objects with liquid nitrogen. It will be a fresh take on a classic event.”

For more information on this year’s Pumpkin Drop, please contact Nelson at 530-898-3415.

Those who require an accommodation in order to attend the Pumpkin Drop or who have questions about accessibility may contact the Accessibility Resource Center at 530-898-5959.