Oct 15 2010

Shooting A Pumpkin Out of A Cannon: 2010 Punkin Chuckin Contest

trebuchet used to launch pumpkins during punkin chunkin contestsThis weekend thousands of spectators will attend the 2010 Punkin Chuckin Contest, an annual event that has taken place for over 20 years at the Pumpkin Farm outside Morton, Illinois. So what exactly happens at the Punkin Chuckin Contest? The Punkin Chuckin, aka pumpkin chucking, is a pseudosport which involves the use of mechanical devices to hurl pumpkins as far as possible. This year contestants are aiming for a mile. There are various entrant classes from high school students who have built catapult type machines, to grown up engineers. Additionally, there are classes for machines that use centrifugal force, for trebuchets and oversize slingshots. Each team gets to pick its ammunition from a Libby’s-donated pile of  Dickinson canning pumpkins for the three competition shots each team will have. The pumpkins must weigh between 8 and 10 pounds. The star attraction at the Punkin Chunkin Contest will be the Aludium Q-36 Pumpkin Modulator, an 18 -ton artillery piece with an 80-foot barrel capable of firing a pumpkin for distances close to a mile. View the Science Channels Trebuchets youtube video from the 2009 Punkin Chuckin Contest here. There’s quite a bit of science, technology, engineering, (STEM) taking place at this event for sure. I’m hoping that many of the nearby school districts have gotten their high school students involved in building a contraption that will be able to shoot a 8-10 pound pumpkin in the air successfully, and maybe even a mile.  For further details about the 2010 Punkin Chunkin contest see the following Chicago Tribune article by Doug George, Tribune Reporter.

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