Friday, January 25, 2008

How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? by Margaret McNamara

Illus. by G. Brian Karas

When the class lines up by height, Charlie is always last. One day his teacher brings three pumpkins to class: big, medium, and small and students predict how many seeds will be in each. When the seeds are counted, the smallest pumpkin has the most and Charlie notes, "Small things can have a lot going on inside them." This book has a lot of mathematics going on; beyond predictions there is the problem of how to count a lot of seeds. The students agree to count by twos, fives, and tens. When Charlie groups the seeds from the smallest pumpkin by tens, he ends up with thirty five groups or 350.

Grades K-2


Brucie said...

Second. Not only is there much math to be learned here, but also there are interesting pumpkin facts. The message that outside appearances don't always mesh with what's on the inside is ome that will resonate with kids.

daf said...

There is not a relationship between the ribs/sutures and the number of seeds inside. The number of ribs on a pumpkin is a genetic trait just as the number of lobes on a pepper. Cucurbit fruit are generally indehiscent (don't break open at maturity and release seed); usually with one or three ovary sections. Aside from species and cultivar differences, the number of seeds inside a winter squash can also vary depending on pollination level. As pollination increases, winter squash size increases to support increased seed number. It is normal for each variety of winter squash to produce all different weights within its size range. So, there is no way to determine the number of seeds inside a winter squash just by looking at it. Is it possible for a "giant pumpkin" to have fewer seeds than a small pie pumpkin-yes. But that will not generally be the case.

There is no clear guideline for what type or species is best for eating--it really depends on what the breeder was breeding for.
Jack-o-lantern pumpkins (ornamentals) are bred for strong handles, strong color, solid skin for carving, large hollow cavity, and small amount of flesh. Winter squash for processing (eating) are bred for flesh quality and disease resistance, overall appearance doesn't matter.
So you are correct that most of the easting winter squash are not the Jack-o-lantern types.



Elizabeth A. Wahle, Ph.D.
Extension Specialist - Horticulture, Fruits and Vegetables Edwardsville Extension Center 200 University Park Drive, Ste. 280 Edwardsville, Illinois 62025-3649
Ph: 618-692-9434 ext. 21
Fax: 618-692-9808

Kimmels said...

I don't find a problem with the facts in this book. In fact the author seems to agree with the experts: "Pollination, pumpkin variety, and time on the vine determine how many lines are on a pumpkin -- and how many seeds are inside. Size alone is not the most important thing.' At no time does the author say the number of lines determine the number of seeds. The author does not say that the smaller the pumpkin, the sweeter the pumpkin. Rather she says "Usually big pumpkins don't taste very good. Small, sweet pumpkins are the kind you should use to make a pumpkin pie."

This book is distinguished in its presentation of mathematical concepts - especially grouping by twos, fives, and tens. There's so much a teacher could do with this book in exploring those concepts. The theme that "less is sometimes more" is carried throughout as the students comment that there aren't many seeds from the small pumpkin because there were only 35 groups of seeds. But since these groups were larger (tens) there were more. This is an important misconception that young children need to puzzle out.