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11.03.15 Local high school students compete in 2nd annual Pumpkin Chunkin’ engineering competition

November 3, 2015

Media Contacts:
Mark Miller, Administrator, Office of Public Information, 410-313-2022
Stacey Yankee, Director, Robinson Nature Center, 410-313-0400
Mary Weller, Coordinator, Secondary Science, Howard County Public Schools, 410-313-6616

Local high school students compete in 2nd annual Pumpkin Chunkin’ engineering competition

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – This past weekend, 45 high school students were joined by five teachers and more than 330 spectators for the 2nd annual Pumpkin Chunkin’ engineering competition at the Robinson Nature Center in Columbia.

A total of seven teams, representing five Howard County high schools – Oakland Mills, Centennial, Mt. Hebron, Reservoir and Glenelg, competed in the competition on Sunday, November 1. Each team was tasked with building a device that would launch a pumpkin towards a target 77 feet away. Teams were each allotted three launch attempts and were scored in the four following areas:

  • Accuracy: ability to most accurately hit the target during three attempts;
  • Precision: devices that produced consistent results;
  • Documentation: best documented the learning process used to produce their final design; and
  • Design: best met design constraints of cost, durability, ease of transport, creativity, aesthetics and performance.

Oakland Mills High School took first place in accuracy, precision and design and tied in third place for documentation. Reservoir High School took first place in documentation and third place in precision. Mt. Hebron High School took second place in precision and accuracy and third place in design. Centennial High School took second place in design and tied for third in documentation. Lastly, Glenelg High School took second in documentation.

“This competition was not only about how well the machines functioned, but about the learning involved,” said Mary Weller, the Coordinator of Secondary Science for Howard County Public School System.

“Pumpkin Chunkin’ is a national competition in which teams compete to create devices such as catapults, sling-shots and trebuchets,” said Leah Clements, an Environmental Educator for the Howard County Public School System and one of the event organizers. “This year, we created scoring rubrics that align to state and national science, technology and engineering standards. These rubrics allow our lead teachers to measure how well their students are meeting those standards while participating in an exciting, real-world challenge.”

“Robinson Nature Center really enjoyed putting on this event as it meets our mission to get the public excited about being outdoors and supporting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education,” said Meagan Leatherbury, Program Manager at the center and a co-organizer of the event.

The Home Depot in Columbia provided in-kind donations to help each team complete its design. The Office Depot in Elkridge and the County’s Department of Recreation & Parks provided school supplies and prizes for student and teacher gift bags. The First Presbyterian Church of Howard County donated pumpkins, while Blair Dubilier and Associates provided equipment and staff to help run live-feed video of the competition into the auditorium to ensure spectators that needed seating for the duration of the competition could enjoy the show.

To see the final list of winners, visit