Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Trump won the White House - predicted by the pumpkins - again!

This is a map of the electorate showing which states put Donald Trump over the required 270 votes for the White House.

The pumpkins accurately predicted the presidential races in 2004, 2012 and 2016.

We need to be paying attention to the pumpkins!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Political pumpkin chunking results ... are flying in ...

Trump won. But, pumpkin organizers say he wasn't the driving force behind his election. His V-P Mike Pence was.

Here's more ... 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Pumpkins predict a Republican sweep, but with some upsets

 Pumpkins representing Trump, Burr, McCrory, Troxler and Stuber flew the distance to win. There were some upsets, particularly with Berry plopping straight out of the shoot and losing by a mile to Meeker. It needs to be noted that all the pumpkins shot a line drive straight down the center, with the exception of Kaine, who veered to the conservative Right.
Here are the top winners .... The hilarious details about who hit whom, and what, and which Democratic pumpkin head veered for a sharp right, will be posted tomorrow.

President  - Donald Trump/Mike Pence

US Senator from North Carolina - Richard Burr

North Carolina Governor - Pat McCrory

Monday, October 31, 2016

Why is this event being held in Conover?

The Newton-Conover STEM Middle School is a leader in science, technology, engineering and math. A trebuchet is a piece of artillery from the Middle Ages, yet the physics applications have never changed. The City of Conover has become a national leader in developing a strong workforce because of such programs as this one. Additionally, Conover is a proud home to the Manufacturing Solutions Center, a program of Catawba Valley Community College. Companies worldwide use that facility to improve their products and develop new ones. Local entrepreneurs use it to launch new products and grow the local job market.

So this all fits together - STEM education, a strong manufacturing heritage, modern technology and job growth.

Who are we chunking on the national level?

President - Donald J. Trump (Rep), Hillary Clinton (Dem), Gary Johnson (Lib)
V-P           - Michael R. Pence (Rep), Tim Kaine (Dem), William Weld (Lib)

Why are we using two different pumpkins for the presidential race? Well, think about it. Some people are voting for the #1 person, while others are voting for the #2 person. We need to see which one will actually be the driver in the race. We add up the distances to determine the winner.

Are more people going to vote for the V-P than the Presidential candidate? Or, is it the other way around? Which one will actually carry the ballot?

US Senate - Richard Burr (Rep), Deborah K. Ross (Dem), Sean Haugh (Lib)

US House (District 10 only) - Patrick McHenry (Rep), Andy Millard (Dem)

This is the first time this event has ever included the Libertarian party. Why? Well, the candidates just never did much. This time, Johnson/Weld are on all 50 states' tickets. However, they haven't gotten their message out there, so we're not giving them as much weight as the others.

They haven't spent much money. They have very few offices and you can barely find a sign for them. So, we're not giving them the home field advantage. Chances are that the real race will be between the two regular parties - for this year. But, who really knows?

The pressure is on ...

In 2012, a cushaw gourd used a secret weapon to go the distance.
The pumpkin heads are feeling the pressure. Tomorrow is the big day. The seeds are thinking last minute strategies to win ....

At the same time, Vice-President Joe Biden is in Charlotte tomorrow. Secret Service officials ask media to be set up by 11 a.m. so they can be given clearance. He will speak later in the afternoon, but that takes media resources away from the pumpkin chunking. BOO!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The job of the counter weight ....

These are weights on the trebuchet.
When the cable is pulled, these go down - thereby thrusting the sling high up into the air - and shooting the political pumpkin head far down the field.
Hey, you may want to call these "the voters."

political pumpkin chunking Conover

Political pumpkin chunking - seeing engineering in action!

The year of the "'hanging chads" ...

The story about political signs ...

From 2012
Where are the political signs? There just aren't that many any more.

One of the things we do for this event is to dress it up with lots of political signs. Each year, we find that local precincts across the state usually ask for a "donation" for the presidential and governor signs because those particular races put their money in TV ads, not in signs for the yard.

This year, we found that some precincts were charging for all signs, particularly the Democrat offices. One said that the only free sign was for the candidate for NC Commissioner of Agriculture.

Local party organizations seem to be using the signs as a fundraising item. So procuring them for our event gets more difficult each year.

Add that there are very few Libertarian offices in North Carolina. In the Catawba County area, where this event is being located, the Libertarians work out of their homes, with no office - and very few signs.

Is there a correlation between pumpkins and politicians?

Previous chunkings ...

While the real candidates are stomping, prepping, speaking, rehearsing and out politicking, let's pause a moment to learn about the real pumpkin. No, this isn't Charlie Brown's Great Pumpkin, but instead the one the Newton-Conover Middle School students are using for this project - and to shed some light on that Jack-o-lantern you may have sitting on your porch.

It's fitting that we use a pumpkin, because they all started out a little crooked - that is - their handles. They stored very well, a concept which can be applied to lengthy terms in office.

Even though there are hundreds of varieties, there are only 4 main species.

  • Pepo - Thin-skinned, the kind we're using for the political politicians. Even though the website says they have a long shelf life, we found some got pretty rotten. You can draw your own conclusion!
  • Maxima - These get huge and stay around for a while. Perhaps you could call them the Super Pacs!
  • Moschata - These are monsters and often come in different colors. They last forever and carry a lot of weight and seeds. You may call them Deep Pocket Donors!
  • Mixta - Well, they're pale and not so sweet. They are often cooked stuffed. What would you call them?

All pumpkins, squash and gourds are related. Most are round and can float back and forth across the aisle. Some are pretty crooked. But, in the end, they are all great to eat. It may be a challenge to find their sweetness.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Anticipation ....

Anticipation about this event is building - with the students, the teacher - and the media. Check this out. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The October surprise hits the pumpkins!

political pumpkin chunking Greta Lint

That's right.

The latest October surprise isn't Donald Trump's women or the rising cost of Obamacare.

It's rot.

The pumpkins have been around so long that they are starting to show wear and tear. Today, one developed a rotten spot.

Oh. Imaging a political campaign without one!

The "heads" are in the house ...

This Democratic pumpkin head awaits its turn to show its true colors. Will it be true blue and fly to the left?
Pumpkins were delivered today to the art class at Newton-Conover STEM Middle School, in Conover. Students learned that the pumpkins, albeit the same size, mass and weight, have minds of their own. It's in the seeds.

You see, in 2004, the pumpkins predicted an 80% accuracy. It was the most accurate "exit poll" in the nation.

The pumpkins exit the canon ... thus the "exit poll."

Historically, we've seen some very strange things happen once the pumpkin head exits ...

The Obama head turned a sharp left.
The Bush head veered a sharp right.
The McCain head started off to the left, then leaned right.
The John Edwards head plopped right in front of the trebuchet.

We can't make this up. Those seeds are brains and the pumpkins have minds of their own.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The suspense builds ....

A couple of North Carolina Boy Scout troops in Statesville and Lenoir were active a few years back and spent time in the shop building Middle Age artillery to shoot pumpkins. The work was for a fall street festival in Statesville, North Carolina, the Carolina PumpkinFest. The festival has continued, but the pumpkin chunking went by the wayside. Turn up your speakers and enjoy ....

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Oh, the process to become a "political pumpkin head" ....

Each pumpkin is weighed. The weight is marked on the bottom. When the Newton-Conover STEM Middle School Art students go to draw the candidates' portraits on the pumpkins, they'll know that the weight for each race has to be the same. That way, we have a "fair and balanced" chunking.
These pumpkins really did want to be considered. But, they were all too small. We chalk that up to a lack of experience in the political world. They may not have had the financial or party backing.
These pumpkins met the challenge. They fell within the appointed weight range. You may construe that as having the "right connections."
You can say that these pumpkins lined up to pay their "filing fee." Now, they're off and running!
In real life, we often hear people say, "Are those the only ones in this country/state/county who are willing to run ...." for whatever office. The process of finding someone to run for office is an arduous task. Many would like to, but few actually do.

That scenario is reflected in this year's pumpkin population. We use regular pie pumpkins, but, they have to be a certain weight to meet the mathematical criteria established to operate the trebuchet. A 3-pounder does a pretty good job.

When the pumpkin is shot out of the canon, you really want it to plop and splatter. That way, we can get a more accurate measurement. If the pumpkin is too hard or too small, it will bounce, and bounce and roll and roll and trying to determine the point of impact is difficult. So, we need a messy pumpkin.

Thanks to Walmart and Food Lion, we were able to get the number of pumpkins we need - at the correct weight. Now some are fat and squatty. Some tall and thin. But, each one has been weighed so we can make sure our "exit poll" is fair and balanced.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

We're going to chunk three parties down the field ...

 Tonight we have the last of  the presidential debates. There are two people. Well, the political pumpkin chunking is going to include all three candidates. Did you know that  there are three parties on the ballot in all 50 states? Republican - Democrat and Libertarian.

We strive to have a fair and balanced chunking. The pumpkins will decide who wins!

Monday, October 17, 2016

The pumpkins are budget conscious ....

With the pumpkin shortage in our area this year, we had to hit the big box store - Walmart. And we asked for a cost reduction. They're 99 cents a pound this year.
So a big shout out to Walmart of Conover for helping this event stay within budget!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Inflation has hit the pumpkins!

Pie pumpkins at some stores are 99 cents a pound, while they're $2.48 at others. You have to weigh them to see if you're getting a deal.
We will chuck around 30 pumpkins which will represent selected political candidates - and public opinion.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Slate of Heads ...

You may ask, "Whose heads are you firing?"

Well, there aren't as many contested partisan races as you might think, in Catawba County.  So many are uncontested races where candidates have essentially already won. 

Here is a sample ballot from Catawba County so you can actually see who will be the options when YOU are in the voting box. 

Naturally, the ballot includes the most notables, Trump and Hillary, but there are some people you may not have heard about, such as the Libertarian candidates. 

A sneak peak says that one of the races will be for the NC Commissioner of Labor, because Cherie Berry is from Newton. She is being challenged by Charles Meeker.

Continue to follow this blog to find out who all will be catapulted.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Amid the election, we pause to help others in peril ...

North Carolina isn't just a battleground state for the election, but it's also a state which has seen incredible devastation from the deadly flooding resulting from Hurricane Matthew, which blew through several days ago.

The chief architect of the pumpkin chunking, Mr. David Barlow, a nationally-recognized fire science and science school teacher, is volunteering with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team to help with water rescue. 

The team is joining other water rescue teams where the Tar River has exploded over its banks, in and around the Greenville, N.C. area of our state. Our thoughts are with Mr. Barlow and the other volunteers.

Monday, October 10, 2016

About Newton-Conover STEM Middle School ...

Newton-Conover STEM Middle School's mission is to provide a caring environment that empowers students to be successful. We believe good thinkers can solve problems and problem solvers have the capacity to do anything. 

We try to remove barriers of what traditional learning looks like by having opportunities to plearn (play and learn).  

Students in all grade-levels have access using two different makerspaces, working on a passionate project through Genius Hour, participating in quarterly STEM Connection Nights, weekly clubs, and learning through Project Based Learning Units. We hope that by creating an environment of that broadens, creative thinking, communication, critical thinking, and collaboration there will be new dimensions for knowledge to be built and rooted. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Straight from the Middle Ages!

These are totals from the 2012 pumpkin chunking. The distance is in feet. Pumpkins were hurled across a farmer's field.
This event was originally the media preview for the Crossroads PumpkinFest in Statesville, North Carolina. A media preview was held two weeks before the event to stir up local interest. It worked!

Today, it is produced by Mr. David Barlow, retired science, math, physics and fire science teacher from Mooresville High School; Greta Lint, event planner and promoter; and, Joel Leonard, chairman of the National Defense Industrial Association Manufacturing Workforce Committee and is an international leader in promoting maintenance and engineering as a viable career.

In 2004, 2008 and 2012, Mr. Barlow's fire science students operated the trebuchet. It was actually constructed by his students, too.

In 2008, art students from the American Charter School, in Statesville, drew the faces.

In 2012, art students from Randleman High School, in Randleman, drew them.

In 2016, this event is being held on school grounds, for the first time, and the curriculum activities are expanding. Thank you Newton-Conover Middle School!

Educational experience ....

This is a 2012 photo of the pumpkin head of former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory after it was shot out of the trebuchet. In 2012, his pumpkin head predicted a loss to the Democratic contender, Walter Dalton. Oh yes, these pumpkins develop their own "human" personalities!
We're not just shooting pumpkins. Students are having fun learning.

They learn how to draw a portrait on a sphere. Normally, that's something art students draw on a flat piece of paper. Did you know that cartography is an up-and-coming career option? Did you know that the designers of hot air balloons draw on a sphere, too?

Students learn about mathematical equations involving speed, height, arch, weight and more. Engineers need to have those skills.

Social studies students learn about the political process.

All the students learn a little about the candidates. Oh, we love to make learning fun!

Oh no! Pumpkin shortage!

As in any election, there are alway unforeseen factors which come into play. In this day and age, it may be an attack, or a hostage or a sickness.

The pumpkins are feeling it too. Because of the dry weather we experienced this summer, local pumpkin supply has been endangered. That's right. There's a shortage.

Local growers say that the pie pumpkins have been the first to sell out - and that is the size we use in this political pumpkin chunking.

But have no fear - we are importing our pumpkins!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

From 2012 ....

A new exit poll!

In 2004, 2008 and 2012, a new kind of exit poll was held to predict the outcome of the general election. On Nov. 1, this same event will be held again. Who will win? Stay tuned....