Annual pumpkin drop is a smash

Student run group provides entertainment and shows an appreciation for physics


The Annual Pumpkin Drop is on its way! Photo credit: Sean Martens

Anisha Brady

It’s the season for Chico State’s annual pumpkin drop. Let’s be honest, watching a pumpkin hurled to the ground from a seven-story building and obliterated into a pulpy mess is nothing less than satisfying. What’s even more satisfying is this free event is put on by the university’s student-run Society of Physics. Members will play the parts of famous scientists like Albert Einstein, Aristotle and Isaac Newton while reenacting Galileo Galilei’s Leaning Tower of Pisa experiment.

Galileo and King Henry talk Physics before the pumpkin drop. Photo credit: Sean Martens

So how does the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Chico’s annual pumpkin drop have anything to do with each other? During the Renaissance, in an effort to challenge Aristotle’s theory of gravity (two objects of different mass fall at different velocities), Galileo went to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and dropped two spheres, neither of which had the same mass. He found something very contradictory to the age-old theory. The spheres hit the ground at the same time, proving that mass was no indication of how slow or fast an object falls.

As an educational and seasonal form of appreciation for this revolutionary discovery, the Society of Physics reenacts the same experiment but, with pumpkins, causing a fun, catastrophic mess.

The kids listen in to learn more about physics before the next drop. Photo credit: Sean Martens

“This is our 29th pumpkin drop and it’s always a great time. Other schools do similar events of throwing pumpkins off of buildings, but ours is unique because we try to synchronize the pumpkins smashing to music,” said the Society’s Vice President of Communications, Kelsey Orr.

The event attracts a wide variety of audiences, especially children, who huddle around the outside of Butte Hall waiting and anticipating the droppings. Many schools in the area bring their students to this special event as a way to teach the history and fundamental concept of the way the physical world works.

The water Pumpkin is the next pumpkin to be dropped from the 7th floor of Butte. Photo credit: Sean Martens

Society members like Kelsey Orr put in a lot of hard work to ensure the safety of the event, and to make sure everything is fun and organized.

“During the actual pumpkin dropping, other society members along with myself will be standing along the roped off section to make sure kids don’t get too excited and cross into the drop zone,” Orr said.

Not only is this a positive way to support fellow students, but a chance to walk away with some knowledge about the world that may have been forgotten or neglected. The pumpkins were donated by the courtesy of Nash Pumpkin Patch in Redding.

“It doesn’t matter how old you are, destroying pumpkins will always be fun,” Orr said.

Anisha Brady can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_arts on Twitter.