Freedom Area Middle School celebrates fall with festive activities for sixth-grade students


Sara Harp

The students race their pumpkin derby cars against each other on the third and final day of Fall Fest

Fall Fest is a yearly activity that the sixth-grade students participate in and enjoy. The teachers set it up every year to last two days. This year it lasted three days: Wednesday, Nov. 6, Thursday, Nov. 7, and Friday, Nov.8.  Fall Fest has been going on for six years and has changed along with time. At first, the only activities Fall Fest contained were making pumpkin pancakes, launching weights with miniature trebuchets, and pumpkin math. Now the students launch pumpkins with full-sized trebuchets, construct derby cars out of small pumpkins, exercise, perform a play, participate in scarecrow races, and do pumpkin math. 

Pumpkin math activity takes place in math classes

The Fall Fest pumpkin math activity took place in the students’ two-period long math classes on Wednesday, Nov. 6. The students had a lot of fun. 

“I am excited for fall fest because I have never done it before and it seems like a lot of fun,” said Emma Ward, one of the students participating in the activity. She also said she was most looking forward to the pumpkin derby race, but still recommended the pumpkin math for next year.  

“I am excited for fall fest because we get to catapult pumpkins,” said Cooper Adams, sixth-grader. He also said he was having fun with friends and recommended this activity for next year. 

Mrs. Lisa Moore, sixth grade teacher, said that they had never done Fall Fest until Ms. Jeanine Ging, another sixth-grade teacher, came to our school with the idea. Moore said that the events are the same this year, but the pumpkin seed data will be used for their statistics unit. 

“The first and second-period classes did great with this activity,” Moore said.

It took a couple of days for everyone to set everything up. Moore said that with Fall Fest they are aiming to teach kids how a lever works with the trebuchet. They also want to teach the kids how to collect data. Overall, everyone had fun, teachers and students alike.

The sixth-grade students participate in the four stations of Fall Fest

On Thursday, the sixth graders were on a four-station rotation between their classrooms. In the first station, the students made derby cars out of small pumpkins in Ging’s classroom. These cars were to be raced the next day. Two high school students that were helping Ging would drill two holes straight through the bottom surface of a pumpkin so that the students could then slide two metal axles through the pumpkin and add spacers and wheels to their car. Thank you to Brenckle’s Organic Farm and Greenhouse and Yeck’s Farm for donating pumpkins to the sixth-grade teachers.

The next station was in the gym. In this station, the sixth graders learned about physics as they launched small weights with miniature trebuchets. After the students collected the data from their launches, they recorded it onto a graph. This station was run by Moore and the High School Physics Club. 

In the third station, students learned the importance of burning the calories that they ate. Everyone got one piece of candy to eat, but then they had to burn it off. They did this by participating in a ten-minute workout that burned 100 calories. 

During the fourth and final station, the sixth graders read The Thanksgiving Turkey Theft aloud in Ms. Tina Strati’s English language arts classroom.

Students launch pumpkins with trebuchet and race customized pumpkin derby cars

Freedom Area Middle School’s annual Fall Fest came to an end on Friday, Nov. 8 in the afternoon with the sixth-grade students partaking in more activities outside the high school. From launching pumpkins across a field to racing pumpkin derby cars down a wooden ramp,  students deemed the fun and educational event to be worth the day off from classes. 

To start the chilly afternoon off, the students gathered around in their cozy winter coats to watch and help the high school Physics Club prepare the trebuchet. The high school students would adjust the pumpkin–or, on a few occasions, an empty 2-liter bottle–into the trebuchet, and a sixth-grade volunteer would pull the rope to trigger the machine when ready. 

After a few pumpkins were launched, the students huddled around a wooden ramp to watch the Physics Club release three pumpkin derby cars, each designed by a different team on the second day of Fall Fest. The purpose of this activity was to introduce students to simple machines and demonstrate how they operate. 

The middle school students rotated between the two stations for a while before being introduced to a new activity, the scarecrow races. One student from each team would obtain a piece of clothing and race to place it anywhere on their team’s scarecrow. Whoever dresses the scarecrow first completely, wins. 

“Fall Fest was really fun,” says Ariana Sanchez, sixth-grade Fall Fest participant. “And stay safe when launching pumpkins!”

Special thanks to Brenckle’s Organic Farm and Greenhouse and Yeck’s Farm for donating pumpkins to the Freedom Area Middle School.