Fredericksburg City Beat

This blog includes news about City Hall, city schools and other 22401 news.

Pamela Gould reports on City Hall. You can reach her at 540-735-1972 or Robyn Sidersky reports on city schools. You can reach her at 540-374-5413 or

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First graders at Hugh Mercer use pumpkins in STEM activities

What could be better than dropping pumpkins from a ladder to see how much they splatter? A good answer would be watching your teachers do the dropping!

The first-graders at Hugh Mercer Elementary in Fredericksburg participated in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) activities this morning that mostly involved pumpkins.

The pumpkin dropping activity was the conclusion. First-grade teacher Ms. Phipps was the official pumpkin dropper. She dropped pumpkins that started small and gradually increased in size. As the students predicted, the largest one splattered the most.

One activity had the students guessing how many seeds were in the pumpkins. They learned that the smallest pumpkins actually had the most seeds and the larger ones had fewer seeds because the seeds were so much bigger.

In another activity, the students had to guess if things would float or sink. Surprisingly, both a piece of paper and pumpkins–large and small–floated.

In another room, they held a scale to see if things weighed more or less than a small pumpkin. They learned that a small pumpkin still weighs more than 40 little cubes.

Finally, in another room, they reached their hands inside pumpkins and had to use descriptive words and write sentences describing how they felt.

Principal Marjorie Tankersley popped in to each of the rooms with the activities to observe and lend a hand. She said the activities were not only fun for the kids, but they were actually learning, too.