Today I have the honor of introducing you to fellow STEM blogger Crystal from The Science Kiddo. Crystal has created a quick pumpkin experiment, perfect for introducing kids to physics! I know you’ll love it!
Looking for an unforgettable way to teach kids about inertia this fall? If you have ever seen the science trick where someone pulls a tablecloth out from under a bunch of dishes without breaking them and wondered how it was possible, you need to try this simple levitating pumpkin experiment!
Levitating Pumpkin Experiment
If you like this easy experiment, you will absolutely love this list of 31 Halloween science experiments for the classroom!
Before calling the kids over, I gathered the following supplies:
- Pitcher or vase halfway full of water
- Heavy cardstock (big enough to fit over the opening of the pitcher or vase)
- Cardboard tube (toilet paper or paper towel roll)
- Mini pumpkin (make sure it’s small enough to fit through the mouth of the pitcher or vase)
I placed the cardstock over the top of a wide-mouth vase and then set the cardboard tube on top.
The kids balanced the mini pumpkin on top of the cardboard tube so that it was right over the mouth of the pitcher.
We were ready to test our levitating pumpkin!
Levitating Pumpkin Experiment
I asked the kids what they thought would happen if we pulled the cardstock out from underneath the pumpkin. They were pretty sure we were about to make a giant mess!
I instructed my daughter to hold the cardstock firmly and then sharply pull it toward herself. I told her to pull fast and to try to pull the cardstock out parallel to the ground.
On the count of three she pulled the cardstock! The cardboard tube flew to the side while the pumpkin hovered in the air for a moment before falling squarely into the vase full of water!
This was such a cool science trick with such an unexpected result that the kids wanted to do it over and over again. Without fail, the pumpkin fell into the vase right under the spot where it had been balancing on the cardboard tube.
The Science Behind This Pumpkin Science Experiment
Newton’s First Law of Motion states, “An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.” The tendency of an object to maintain its current state of motion is called inertia.
Objects with more mass have more inertia. In other words, heavier objects resist a change in their motion more than light objects do.
The cardboard tube is light and doesn’t have a lot of inertia while the pumpkin is heavier and has more inertia. Because the pumpkin is much heavier it isn’t moved as easily by the same pull. It stays in the same position and falls directly into the vase.
Crystal is a homeschooling mom of three and the author of AWESOME SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS FOR KIDS. After giving up an academic career in chemistry to stay home with her kids, she launched The Science Kiddo to focus on sharing science experiments with her children. She writes about science, coding, engineering, and math activities for kids.
Check out some of these other great Fall STEM activities!
16 Spider STEM Activities and Science Experiments
Spin Art Spider Webs
Tensile Strength Experiment: Find the Strongest Spider Web!
Giant Dry Ice Bubble Crystal Ball
Caramel Apple Rock Painting Fall STEM Activity
Halloween Rock Painting for Kids using Physics!
25+ Halloween Science Experiments to do with your Kids!