Saturday, November 07, 2015

Jack Splat!

Last night the Iowa Children's Museum presented us with a wonderful surprise. We'd made a plan to go there for a Friday evening outing after school, and we walked unexpecting into the remarkable event known as Jack Splat! In the big "main street" open space at the heart of the museum, where normally one could access the music room and the post office, tarps were laid down and a cleanup crew stood below. Above on the balcony lurked a great swarm of over-aged pumpkins, a week past Halloween and ready to meet their end.

Our timing was perfect: Isaac Newton was just explaining to a rambunctious audience how his first law of motion meant that a falling pumpkin, once in motion, would keep moving until it encountered an opposing force---"The ground!" cried the children, and the pumpkin flew down to meet its fate.
Isaac Newton (resplendent in toilet-paper-roll wig) and lab assistant preparing to launch a pumpkin.
The physics lessons continued, accompanied by redolent meaty splats of demonstration. Before each pumpkin flew, the throwers read out its name and the name of its donor, as well as the specified method of execution (e.g., roll from the ledge face first, backflip up in the air).  The children cheered and chanted (though one little boy near us was quite upset, and asked why the people hated pumpkins so much), and the rain of gourds continued for nearly half an hour, quite challenging the cleanup crew to keep up with all the mess.
Getting ready for the next bombardment.
I much enjoyed the unexpected show, and was reminded of a similar but much smaller scale yearly event arranged by the undergraduates at MIT.  A good and rather cathartic end to a Friday evening.
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