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Carve some pumpkins – get your science fair project done!

Posted by on October 24, 2011

Science should be fun!


Carving Pumpkins? Do your science fair project at the same time!

This project should work nicely for a Josephine/Joseph or a Rachel/Rick type student. A Caroline/Carl type student could expand this project by comparing a variety of fruits (remember that even if we generally refer to it as a vegetable, if it has seeds it is technically a fruit!)

Pumpkin Carving

STEP 1 – Ask a Question: Do bigger pumpkins have more seeds?

STEP 2 – State a Hypothesis (pick one)
• As the size of a pumpkin increases, the number of seeds increases
• As the size of a pumpkin increases, the number of seeds decreases
• As the size of a pumpkin increases, the number of seeds stays the same

STEP 3 – Conduct an Experiment
Now all you have to do is change the independent variable (pumpkin size) and measure the dependent variable (number of seeds).
Here is an example of a procedure:
1. Get 3 small pumpkins, 3 medium pumpkins, and 3 large pumpkins and mark them with numbers (#1-9)
2. Measure and record the size of each pumpkin. Note that size can be defined any way you would like, but the more measurements you have, the better your analysis will be later. Size could be: length, width, height, diameter, circumference, volume, and/or weight.
3. Cut the top off each pumpkin just like you were carving it. Scoop out all the seeds and count them (then wash them and cook them for a treat).

STEP 4 – Analyze the results
Smaller Sizes
Pumpkin #1; Size ___________________________________ # of seeds______________
Pumpkin #2; Size ___________________________________ # of seeds______________
Pumpkin #3; Size ___________________________________ # of seeds______________
Medium Sizes
Pumpkin #4; Size ___________________________________ # of seeds______________
Pumpkin #5; Size ___________________________________ # of seeds______________
Pumpkin #6; Size ___________________________________ # of seeds______________
Larger Sizes
Pumpkin #7; Size ___________________________________ # of seeds______________
Pumpkin #8; Size ___________________________________ # of seeds______________
Pumpkin #9; Size ___________________________________ # of seeds______________

• Graph pumpkin size (x-axis) vs. # of seeds (y-axis), what do you see?
• Does the number of seeds increase as pumpkin size increases?
• Do all the measurements of size lead to the same pattern (i.e. Does weight vs. # of seeds produce the same pattern as circumference vs. # of seeds, etc.)
• What if you estimated the pumpkin to be a cube or a sphere? Using your measurements, and the equation for volume of a cube/sphere, determine if the estimated sizes produce the same pattern (i.e. graph volume (x-axis) vs. # of seeds (y-axis).
• What if you divide the number of seeds by the measurement of size (e.g. 100 seeds divided by a 2 lb pumpkin would give you 50 seeds per pound). Then determine if bigger pumpkins give you more seeds per measurement of size (per pound, or per inch, or per gram, or per centimeter – whatever you have measured). Does the relationship hold?

STEP 5 – Make a conclusion
Do your results allow you to accept your hypothesis, or do you need to reject your hypothesis?

Ask the next question: Does the pattern I observed for pumpkins, apply to other fruit? You could, if you wanted a more in depth project, compare pumpkin results to squash, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, watermelon, etc.

3 Responses to Carve some pumpkins – get your science fair project done!

  1. Dr. Maille Lyons

    As I was carving my own pumpkins today, I thought of another twist on the experiment detailed above:

    Do bigger pumpkins have bigger pumpkin seeds?

    This time your dependent variable would be the average size of the seeds inside pumpkins of different sizes.

  2. puncsiditon.science

    These are also great rainy-day activities with your kids, even if there isn’t a science fair in sight.  

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