Thursday, October 23, 2008

Press Release - Pumpkin Chunkin’ Contest Launches Crossroads Pumpkin Fest

STATESVILLE, NC – On Medieval battlegrounds, warriors used siege engines to hurl deadly balls of fire or large rocks into walled cities. Today, ingenious local students are studying about the primitive type of warfare in engineering and physics classes. They’re learning about Sir Isaac Newton’s second law of motion – force equals mass times acceleration. Only this time, they’re putting a different spin on it – force equals pumpkin destruction!
Students at Mitchell Community College, in Statesville, and North Iredell High School are building catapults and trebuchets to use during the 6th Annual Crossroads Pumpkin Fest on Saturday, November 1. Budding members in the motorsports, medical and engineering fields will be slinging orange gourds to see how far they will go.
The Bell and Howard Chevrolet Pumpkin Chunkin’ Competition, presented by Mitchell Community College, will be held at the old landfill
located behind the Statesville City Parks and Recreation office on Signal Hill Drive. Pumpkins will be flying from 8:30 – 11 a.m.
The event is free and open to the public. Bystanders will see six teams. Some will use trebuchets using counterweights. Others will bring catapults that incorporate an elastic spring action to propel the sling.
“Pumpkins will roll, bounce and splatter,” says MCC physics instructor Doug Knight, Ph.D. “All competitors will use the little pie pumpkins that weigh 4-6 pounds. Our team, the MCC Projectile Society, is looking for a good match against the high school students.”
Chunkers from North Iredell High School won the 2007 contest.
This year, the competition has two categories – junior and senior division. Each team will hurl pumpkins six times. Distances will be averaged to determine scores. Pumpkins are expected to fly 125-150 yards.
Winning teams in the junior and senior division will take home $250 and $500, respectively, and a trophy. Despite last year’s loss, Dr. Knight’s students have built a reputation for their creativity and skill, such as building and firing a 50-lb rocket a half-mile into the sky. One of his students, Josh Calnan, landed a paid internship with NASA this past summer.
“This really is rocket science,” says Knight. “You can watch some of the videos from prior years on You Tube and see what we’re talking about.”
For more information about the competition, log onto or call Dr. Knight at 704-978-5432.

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