Gourds on the Go: Fullerton Pumpkin Launch

Teams'll attempt to send squashes soaring far and high. How? With trebuchet-cool launchers.

SCIENCE WHOA: Did you buy some of those small chocolate pumpkins over Halloween, the kind that come wrapped in colorful foil? How about the wee pumpkins made of sugar, the ones that taste vaguely like candy corn? If you or the kids or your pals were feeling a little playful on Oct. 31, and sugared-up, chances are you attempted to catch some candy with your mouth alone, and not your hands. We're not talking full-size candy bars, which would get mighty messy, fast, but rather smaller treats like the aforementioned chocolate or sugar pumpkins. Watching such tiny pumpkins sail through the air and into a friend's mouth is pretty entertaining, but our question to you is this: Is it nearly as entertaining as seeing a real pumpkin launched from a cool trebuchet device? The kind of machine constructed by engineering teams who've studied how to make a squash fly, at least temporarily? Okay: Both candy-catching and pumpkin-soaring are neato, we'll concur. But to see the second sight, step away from the candy bowl and head for the athletic fields at...

CAL STATE FULLERTON... on Saturday, Nov. 4. The university and the Discovery Cube of Orange County are once again pairing up to host a free-to-see day that's all about the science of sending pumpkins across vast expanses via engineering know-how. Well, maybe not "vast" — the pumpkins are not going to land in Anaheim or Norwalk — but a few jaws will drop at how far these seedy orbs will go. STEM is at the heart of the competition, and the winning team will snag the Pumpkin Launch trophy, which may be one of the most major of all trophies, ever. Food trucks? They'll be out, too, which suits the 12:30 start time of the squashy showdown (though everything opens around 10 a.m.). Grab your lunch, observe the teams at work, and ponder how science-tastic it is to see a propeller-less pumpkin zoom to its final, sometimes splatty, always applause-worthy destination.

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