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Three students guess giant pumpkin's weight


Armchair reckoning topped scientific calculation in the contest to guess the weight of the giant pumpkin at the Haines School library.

Three students – Nathan Haas, 11, Wesley Verhamme, 10, and Luke Davis, 8 – correctly guessed that the pumpkin weighs 160 pounds. That was better than high school science teacher Mark Fontenot’s estimate of 141.8 pounds based on an empirical algorithm and information from a pumpkin website. It also beat a guess of 152 pounds that employed a calculus formula incorporating estimates of volume and density.

Librarian Leigh Horner allowed guessers to handle the pumpkin and to make measurements of it.

“I know I can lift over 100 pounds and I couldn’t quite lift it up, so I put down 150 and 160 and then I erased 150,” Verhamme said, describing how he reasoned out his guess. “It was kind of hard to lift because of its weird shape.”

Haas based his guess on his experience moving giant snowballs. “I used to make big snowballs. They got bigger, so I kind of know how much something that size weighs. I figured they were about the same.”

Said third-grade winner Davis: “I was thinking it was going to be between 100 and 200 because it was big, but not huge. And I thought it was going to be above 150.”

Fontenot said he put three different pumpkins into water to test their density and each floated at a different level. Density varies from pumpkin to pumpkin, which complicates scientific estimates of weight, he said. “There’s probably not a particularly scientific way to beat the guesser.”

The high school’s engineering class will carve the pumpkin into a brain, based on a design submitted by sophomore Kaya Ramirez and voted on by students. Students submitted 50 designs.

Students were required to read a book for every guess submitted and some 270 books were read during the past two weeks, Horner said. “I got a lot of participation in the pumpkin. The pumpkin has brought a lot of life to the library.”

The carved pumpkin will be on display at the library next week.


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