Pumpkin Drop

Thank you to everyone who showed up for our Pumpkin Drop. Without the support of all those who entered the competition and those watching we would not be able to continue this ODU tradition.

Please continue to check back here for updates on our 2014 Pumpkin Drop.


  1. Your pumpkin catcher should be 3 feet by 3 feet in size or larger so that the pumpkin droppers can hit it from 10 stories up. (2.5 feet square is probably OK but anything smaller will probably not be hit.)
  2. Bring 3 pumpkins (each about 8 to 10 pounds) to the Society of Physics Students office by October 15 and 24. Note that we cannot guarantee that your pumpkins will be dropped on your catcher.
  3. Your pumpkin catcher needs to be able to be moved quickly (1 to 2 minutes) moved into position.
  4. Your team can consist of up to 4 people.
  5. No styrofoam peanuts. They are too hard to clean up.
  6. Your catcher must not generate any dangerous projectiles, even when impacted by a 30 m/s pumpkin
  7. Bring your pumpkin catcher to the lawn on the south side of Batten Arts and Letters (BAL) Building by 11:30 am on Drop Day (Safety evaluation is required before your catcher can be used).

    Pumpkin Problems

    1. What is the force of gravity (in N) on your 9 pound pumpkin?
    2. What is its potential energy at the top of BAL (in J)?
    3. What is its kinetic energy the instant before it hits your pumpkin catcher (in J)?
    4. How much work does your pumpkin catcher have to do to stop it (in J)? [Hint: What is its kinetic energy after it has been stopped? How much did the catcher change the pumpkin's kinetic energy?]


    In the past, people have used empty milk jugs, water balloons, straw, etc. Successful pumpkin catchers have ranged in height from 2 to 10 feet tall.