One of my favorite parts of project based work in schools, is that you are never sure where it will go! My class started their interest in building, making, and taking apart things back in the summer when we built a birdhouse! Since then the children have taken apart clocks, flashlights, intercoms, phones, and calculators. In the middle of all this exploration, we had halloween. I had seen a Pinterest post showing an inventive way to cut out shapes in a pumpkin using a hammer and a cookie cutter. I had planned on letting the children hammer nails into a pumpkin, and later wrap with twine; so this idea seemed like a good extension for them. As well as a great addition to their wood working bench to explore.
The kids enjoyed hammering the cookie cutters in, I will note that I often had to ‘start’ the process as it can be a bit difficult to keep the cookie cutter still on the smooth pumpkin surface. Once the cookie cutters were all hammered in, the children had to problem solve on how to get the cookie cutters out. We decided to try a wrench, and the children loved it! The task was both challenging and rewarding and kept the children busy through out the day.
Once the Pumpkin had no more space left to insert cookie cutters into, we started wedging them out. We used the lever process, turning anything that worked into a lever. The pumpkin scoop was our favorite. We never had to cut the top off of the pumpkin to get the guts out, there were enough bat and pumpkin shaped holes in the pumpkin, that our littler hands had no problem reaching in and pulling the seeds out! (Some of us enjoyed the mystery, others enjoyed sorting out the seeds)
Then we had to decide on how to light the pumpkin. The children came up with all kinds of ideas. We tried most of them… then we had an idea. What if we put a light bulb in the pumpkin? How would we power it? How does that work? We decided to turn to the smallest and simplest version of light we could think of (that wasn’t a fake tea light) A FLASHLIGHT! We ended up taking a few flashlights apart before we found one that had the kind of light we wanted, and the kind of power. And with the help of family support, we were able to create a small circuit to place inside the pumpkin! If we moved the wire a certain way the light would come on, if we moved the wire another it would turn off. We also found that using more batteries meant the light would be brighter!
This project helped launch the class into an assortment of new projects such as building a Da Vinci Clock, which lead us to telescope exploration, which in turn lead us to wonder about space! You never know where imaginative minds will go!