Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pumpkin Dissection for Kids

Do you have a plethora of pumpkins? We certainly do, but we aren't hurting for ways to use them! We're carving and cooking, and of course, dissecting.


Oh my, yes. Dissecting. What a great way to talk with kids about the importance of seed development, discuss the process of plant maturation, harvest, and use.

Interested in doing something similar? Here's what the process looked like at our house:

First we gathered supplies. They inclued (clockwise, from the top left corner of the below photo): pans for seeds and pulp (these are burner covers, are the same ones I use for sand letters, and are about 99 cents each at home supply stores), a food scale, clipboards, a large household scale, some small cups for investigation, child tweezers, brushes (or any other instrument you have on hand) for pulp manipulation, tape measure, pumpkins and gourds of various sizes. [For this project, we choose one large and one medium pumpkin, plus one small gourd.]

After I took this picture I remembered that I should also include knives- children's and adult's versions, and metal spoons for scooping. We also made small folded paper "books" to record our findings at each step of the process.
 The first thing we did was measure the circumference of each pumpkin/gourd. I used a household measuring tape that I typically [would] use for sewing.. *ahem*... if I did any.

Then we weighed our pumpkins. Our large one measured up just fine, but our medium and smaller pumpkins registered "zero" on the scale. We discussed whether or not they really weighed nothing... or maybe just weighed less than this particular scale could measure. We questioned whether or not we just needed a more sensitive scale.

Big one does just fine on the large scale...

 We decided we did just needed a more sensitive scale, and thus recorded our results this way.
 Once the circumference and weight of each pumpkin was recorded, we moved on to cutting them open to inspect their, as my kids would say, "guts."

Mommy did the cutting with a large knife, top off only so the children would have a chance to draw what they saw when just the top was removed from the pumpkin.
 This is where we paused to draw in our observation journals what we found as we cut the top of the pumpkin off. I simply asked the children to draw what they saw, explaining that true scientists try to record their findings at each step of the process, even if they're anxious to rip into said "guts." (Smile.)
 Using the same tape measure we used to record the circumference of each pumpkin, we measured the width of the pumpkin flesh from the inside, first on the large, then the medium and smallest pumpkin/gourds.
 Then, we spooned out the seeds and pulp onto trays and went to town exploring how they felt. The kids noticed that the seeds were attached to the pulp, which produced a great conversation about the seeds needing water and nutrients from the growing pumpkin.
 Not so sure at first...
 After we drew a pumpkin diagram in our books which included the different parts of the pumpkin (skin, stem, flesh, pulp and seeds), the kids began using their tools to explore on their own.
 I encouraged them to explore the scales, which they did. They wondered aloud whether the parts of the pumpkin- now cut apart- would weigh the same amount as the whole pumpkin. We investigated.

 ...aaaaaand then we got carried away and just piled everything that we could onto the scale.

Printable for making the record book is coming soon!


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