Pumpkin catapulting event in Oxford promotes composting; Miami students welcome

Credit: Natalie Jones

Credit: Natalie Jones

An Oxford city council member, a Talawanda physics teacher, and a big trebuchet (catapult) seek to clean up Oxford’s streets of leftover pumpkins this fall season.

The Oxford pumpkin chuckin’ event is scheduled to occur from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Friday at 6025 Fairfield Road behind the TRI Community Center Complex. Participants are welcome to bring their own pumpkins or jack-o’-lanterns to launch in the specially-built trebuchet. Food trucks will also be in attendance.

Chantel Raghu, a member of Oxford’s city council and a contributor to the event, said the main goal of the event is to help raise awareness of Oxford’s newly-created composting program.

After participants launch their pumpkins aimed towards a bulls-eye target, pumpkin leftovers will be collected to place in Oxford’s composting center.

“For the past few years, I’ve been trying to figure out how we can try to capture the pumpkins that are getting carved for jack-o’-lanterns and for fall time,” Raghu said. “So we can try to educate people about the compost and capture them, instead of the pumpkins going off into the landfill and creating methane and worsening global warming.”

Raghu also said she hopes the event can help decrease the number of smashed pumpkins left to rot on the streets and sidewalks, while still capturing the fun of destroying them.

“That was another part of it too, ‘hey you want to smash some pumpkins and maybe not make the Mile Square crummy?” Raghu said. “Why don’t you bring the pumpkin to the catapult and then you can smash it there.”

To assist Raghu in her goals, she sent a flurry of emails to the Talawanda science department. Physics teacher Heidi Schran responded with interest in the project.

“I observed a classroom where the teacher had been building with his students, a large catapult… I thought ever since that was almost 15, 16 years ago, I wanted to build one with my students.” Schran said. “Chantel reaching out gave me the activation energy to get over that hump.”

The trebuchet plans to be around 10 feet high with its arm fully extended. Schran said they’re basing their project on a trebuchet that can launch a six-pound rock up to 150 feet.

“My students are a really great group of people, so doing anything with them is really fun,” Schran said. “...These are all kinds of design process things that are really neat for them,

Going forward, Raghu said she hopes the success of the event this year can lead to it becoming an annual one.

“I would love for Miami students to show up,” Raghu said. “...Plus, it’s just being fun because you get to extend some of that Halloween joy a little bit longer.”

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