By Lindsay Vandewater, 6th year, SMU

Note: This experiment was conducted while wearing appropriate protective attire. Do not attempt to duplicate, re-create, or perform the same or similar experiments at home, as personal injury or property damage may result.

1img_7106Introduction

With Halloween just around the corner, I have conducted an experiment to find out how many rubber bands it would take to explode a pumpkin.

I remember watching a Buzzfeed video once about an exploding watermelon and thought, “Hey, I could do that with a pumpkin!” So, in the spirit of Halloween, we decided it would be fun to use a pumpkin for this experiment.

Hypothesis

It will take 160-200 rubber bands to crack a pumpkin open.

 

11img_7106Methods and Materials

The materials for this experiment are rubber bands, a pumpkin, a table, and a large open space. I used Staples brand #64 rubber bands and a pumpkin I bought from the grocery store.

It is important to make sure the pumpkin is not too big or too small; the rubber bands may not be effective if the pumpkin is over- or under-sized. The pumpkin should not be hollowed out! And always wear proper safety materials when conducting experiments.

As for the procedure, the rubber bands were wrapped around the pumpkin one at a time. For the best results, make sure to place the rubber bands around the center of the pumpkin. This way it can be assured that all the pressure of the rubber bands will be placed in one location.

 

20-img_7106Procedure

I started this experiment with a pumpkin that was around 20 pounds; it was huge and I ended up breaking a few rubber bands trying to wrap them around my pumpkin. I decided the pumpkin was too big, so I started with a new, smaller pumpkin. This pumpkin was about 6-8 pounds (I don’t own a scale so I wasn’t able to get an actual weight). When I started wrapping my rubber bands around this pumpkin, I knew it was going to work. One at a time, I started wrapping rubber bands around the center of my pumpkin. The image to the left shows my pumpkin with 20 rubber bands around it. As you can see, there was no real change in the over pumpkin shape at this point.

100-img_7106I kept wrapping rubber bands around my pumpkin, occasionally stopping to keep track of how many bands I had used and for taking the occasional picture. At around 100 rubber bands, I was starting to see a change in the shape of the pumpkin, so I knew the experiment was working well. Looking at this picture of the pumpkin with 100 rubber bands around it, you can see that the pumpkin is starting to cave in the middle a little bit. At around 117 rubber bands, I heard the sweet sound of the pumpkin starting to crack a little.

From my research, I knew I was going to hear that cracking, and the cracking meant that the pumpkin was going to explode soon. I proceeded to keep putting rubber bands on the pumpkin, a little bit more hesitantly this time. At 130 rubber bands, I was hearing the cracking noise quite a bit, but the pumpkin showed no signs of breaking yet. From there until around 180 rubber bands, I heard no more noise coming from the pumpkin but I was moving quickly to make sure I could get as many bands on as I could before the pumpkin gave out. As soon as I put the 190th rubber band on the pumpkin, I could tell it was ready to give. I heard the cracking noise again, stood back, and watched the top fly off!

 

1img_7126Results and Discussion

Looking back at the hypothesis, I was correct; the pumpkin cracked open with just under 200 rubber bands (190 to be exact)! I think my hypothesis was a good one for the smaller pumpkin I ended up using. However, I had come up with this hypothesis when I still had my first, huge pumpkin. In hindsight, I think the bigger pumpkin would have required much more than 200 rubber bands in order to crack it open.

It is really neat to see the pumpkin in two pieces, because the pumpkin broke apart very cleanly. There was no pumpkin seeds or insides to clean up; the pumpkin was in two almost equal halves, and the rubber bands all came off the pumpkin in one clump.

This was an awesome, fun, quick and easy experiment to do. It would be a great experiment with a few added details, like measuring the weight of the pumpkin and the force of one rubber band. With these added measurements, I may have been able to provide some statistics and a more precise hypothesis about how many rubber bands would explode a pumpkin. But for now, time to make some pumpkin pie!