High school students explode pumpkins

By PAMELA GRANT
Cove Leader-Press

High school students had a smashing time this Halloween when they had the opportunity to perform a variety of fun, Halloween-themed experiments.
Students in the Life Skills classes at Copperas Cove High School participated in a Mad Scientist Day on Tuesday, during which they tossed pumpkins using catapults they made themselves, broke open geodes to find crystals, exploded pumpkins, made blood in a bottle, and more.
“Halloween is still a really big thing for [our students],” said teacher Tina Carter.
It was important for Carter and the other Life Skills teachers to come up with creative and fun experiments that offered a teachable experience so that the students could enjoy Halloween and learn at the same time.
The students put in a lot of work prior to Mad Scientist Day in order to make it all possible. Carter said that her students went to a pumpkin patch to pick their own pumpkins and carved them out for the catapult and exploding pumpkin projects, they collected bottles for the blood making experiment, and more. One of the biggest projects was creating the catapults. The Life Skills students worked together with the woodshop students to build the catapults themselves.
“Each kid did a little bit to prepare,” said Carter. “And now they’re reaping their rewards.”
Carter said that the experiments and the work leading up to them helped the students develop life skills such as measuring, following directions, socialization, and working together. 
Kelsey Jones (18) said she had a lot of fun doing the experiments and that her favorites were the ones with the rocks and the exploding pumpkins. She said she thought the exploding pumpkins were awesome.
One of the teachers, Tamiane Bryant, led the “exploding” pumpkin experiment. The students poured dish soap, baking soda, vinegar, and food coloring into a miniature pumpkin. After adding in the final ingredient, the concoction bubbled to the surface, occasionally pouring over to the delight of the students. They also performed a Mentos and Coke experiment.
“We wanted to make it fun for them. The bigger the explosion, the better for them,” said Bryant. “I think they really liked it. They seemed like they were having fun, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Bryant said she hopes her experiment can help teach the Life Skills students about chemicals, force, and gravity. She added that she liked that they could get out, socialize, have fun, and learn at the same time.
The students will be repeating some of the experiments later in the week so that the teachers can reinforce the day’s lessons.

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