2nd annual Pumpkin Sling held at Picatinny Arsenal

PICATINNY, New Jersey (WABC) -- What a blast!

Under blue skies right next to beautiful Lake Picatinny, students launched pumpkins to see who could send the orange gourds the farthest.

Almost 100 New Jersey science and math students put their books aside to test their catapult designs as part of a STEM competition.

Students and their teachers representing Dover Middle School, Hillside High School, Madison High School, Morris Knolls High School, Morristown High School, West Orange High School and Sussex County Technical School were among this year's entrants.

Engineers from Picatinny Arsenal were on hand, as the pumpkins were fired one by one into Picatinny Lake. During competition, Picatinny scientists explained to the students how instruments work best and discussed the methods used to measure performance of cannons.

"Through this punkin chunkin, students get to learn about these awesome machines and the math and science behind them," teacher Paul Hascek said. "They also get to use the materials and tools necessary to make it all work."

Remarks by John F. Hedderich, from US Army Armament Research, encouraged the students to get hands-on experience.

"How far you go is not as important as about what you learn," he said.

Pumpkin Sling organizer Giulia Grotenhuis said Picatinny Arsenal does STEM development with community students to prepare the engineers of the future.

"For the communities around Picatinny, we are looking for youth that are future engineers," Grotenhuis said. "We host this program to foster math and science in an innovative way."

Student competitor Pierce Moul said he's working with the best teachers he's ever had, and he is interested in mechanical engineering.

Javonica Latamore, from Hillside High School, was one of a handful of girls competing. Her team focused on streamlining pumpkin flight.

"We made our sling with two slits for aerodynamics," she said.

Third place went to West Orange High School, while Madison High School took second. The winner was Morris Knolls High School, which reached the farthest distance of 442.2 feet. The winning team goes on to world competition in Delaware. In fact, pushing pumpkins could land students a scholarship, along with building their desire for a future career path in engineering.
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