An
Elementary Activity
Pumpkins
are fun! Their size and color, smell and taste make them perfect
for children's observation and exploration. In this activity students
in cooperative groups search, suggest, question, predict, and estimate
the number of seeds in a set of pumpkins. They will combine mathematical
procedures and scientific observation to learn more about this seasonal
delight.
Divide
the students into groups of 5 that reflect the diverse abilities
of your classroom. Each group will examine 3 pumpkins and record
their observations on a chart (see sample below). A local farmer
or grocery store may be willing to donate pumpkins for this activity.

Pumpkin
1 
Pumpkin
2 
Pumpkin
3 
1.
How tall? 



2.
How big around? 



3.
What color? 



4.
What is the weight? 



5.
How many lines on the outside? 



1st
Seed Count (Prediction) 



2nd
Seed Count (Estimation) 



3rd
Seed Count (Exact Total) 



Brainstorming.
To introduce the activity, have the whole class discuss what the
pumpkins look like from the outside and what they might look like
on the inside. Talk about roasting and eating pumpkin seeds as snacks.
If they were going into the grocery story and looking for a pumpkin
with many seeds, how would they know which one to choose? The mission:
determine what characteristics, if any, would help predict the number
of seeds within. Let the students discuss the characteristics of
the pumpkins and the various ways they could measure and describe
them. Some examples might be: How tall? How big around? What about
the color, the shape? What is the weight? Does the number of outside
grooves tell anything? What about the smoothness of the pumpkin's
skin?
Data
Gathering. Individual groups will decide on 5 questions to investigate;
each group member is responsible for 1 question. If the group decides
to measure the pumpkins, the students can use string to make the
measurements, plot the string lengths on a meterstick or yardstick,
and translate the findings to the group's chart.
Prediction
and Estimation. When data collection is completed and recorded,
each group will predict the number of seeds in the pumpkin and discuss
possible connections between the number of seeds and the pumpkins'
characteristics. Cut the pumpkins open, scoop out the seeds and
pulp, separate the seeds and pulp and let the seeds dry. Each group
should estimate each pumpkin's seed total, then count the seeds
for an exact total.
Post
all the groups' charts and compare the exact number of pumpkin seeds
with the predictions and estimations. How different are the totals?
Do you need an exact total to plan a snack? What about a farmer
who will harvest the seeds of pumpkins in a field? Do pumpkins with
similar characteristics have similar seed counts? Do there appear
to be any relationships between pumpkin characteristics and the
seed counts?
The
Teacher as Facilitator
