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College of Engineering and Computing


Pumpkin Chunkin' Encourages Teens to Explore Engineering

How Far Can a Pumpkin Fly?

Some area high school students will hurl pumpkins through the air this Halloween but not as a prank. The annual Pumpkin Chunkin contest, hosted by the Theta Tau chapter at the University of South Carolina’s College of Engineering and Computing (CEC), brings teams of students to campus to see how far they can launch pumpkins using handmade trebuchet. More than a dozen teams, representing high schools from across the region, will compete on October 31 beginning at about 9 in the morning at the USC Soloman Blatt Physical Education Center.

They build catapults in class and then, they put them to the test.  Theta Tau members hope this fun activity will get students interested in engineering and computer science.

During the competition, students will use balls, rather than pumpkins, to ensure each team launches the same weight and shaped object. The teams are judged on the presentation of the trebuchet, how far the ball travels and the accuracy of the launch. The first place team wins $500, which will go back to their school. Second and third placed teams also win cash prizes.

"Our goal is to increase student exposure to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) fields outside of a traditional classroom setting, " said Katie Morsberger, Theta Tau member. "Pumpkin Chunkin' participants are encouraged to think outside of the box and engage in an active application of their previously learned skills, while also exploring new concepts through teamwork, experimentation and innovation. Our hope is that by hosting this event, we can inspire students not only to be creative and work together, but also to pursue higher education, perhaps even within the STEM fields."

 After the official contest ends, the teams get to have some fun by launching pumpkins across the field.

You can support Theta Tau, a professional engineering fraternity, through donations by contacting Jared Leone at leonej@email.sc.edu. The non-profit fraternity uses all donations to support outreach activities like Pumpkin Chunkin'.