We attended the 5th annual Pumpkin Drop put on by the WSU Physics and Astronomy departments early this month. The kids enjoyed watching the pumpkins fall from the 12th floor of the tallest building in Pullman. They didn't enjoy the rain so much, though.
Galileo is said to have dropped a 10-pound weight and a one-pound weight off the Leaning Tower of Pisa in 1621 to prove that objects fall at the same speed, regardless of weight. In truth, Galileo probably never dropped anything off the tower. He did use pen, paper and logic to disprove a belief held since the time of Aristotle. It was commonly believed in the 17th century that heavier objects fell faster than lighter ones, but Galileo devised a simple mathematical equation to refute that: d=1/2gt2. Sir Isaac Newton refined the idea into the law of gravity.
Galileo made a special a special appearance on the WSU campus to explain his theory to the crowd. A hunchbacked assistant came along to help and entertain. They had witty dialog, but the kids weren't really into that. They just wanted to see a pumpkin drop and splatter on the sidewalk- and so did Mommy. It was quite frigid that day!
They dropped one pumpkin with dry ice inside, which made for a pretty impressive splat at the bottom. The final pumpkin was filled with candy, and the kids got to go down and gather up the candy. Unfortunately, much of the candy ends up with a bit of a pumpkin aftertaste, and it's kind of a chore going through to find the decent pieces that haven't been ripped apart by the impact. But fun for the kids, anyway.