Home News Local News Carving up education
Carving up education
By LISA BRITTON
Of the Baker City Herald
Bonnie Taie's kindergartners watch closely as she slices into the top of their classroom pumpkin to carve out a lid.
These Brooklyn students have a bit of ownership in this big orange fruit, after all.
Taie brought the pumpkin in from her own garden.
On Tuesday, they wrapped their arms around its girth to guess its circumference.
Then they tried to determine its weight.
One student said 910 pounds, Taie said.
It weighed 36.5.
Then came the time for design.
Drawing from their studies of shapes, the students decided on a unique face for their pumpkin.
Crescent-shaped scowling eyebrows.
A heart nose.
"And a mad smile," Taie laughed.
The vicious grin sports three pointy teeth on the top, three squarish flat chompers on the bottom.
"They wanted a mean pumpkin," she said.
On Wednesday morning, Taie took up a knife and carefully cut along the black marker lines already adorning the pumpkin's face.
"The bigger the pumpkin, the tougher it is," Donnie Gallagher, 5, told his teacher as she sawed away.
As soon as the lid came off, Taie passed it around to let the students take a sniff.
"You probably won't like the smell," she warned.
Most wrinkled their noses and fanned the air to disperse the offensive smell.
But a few liked it.
"Mmmmm," they said.
Once the top was off, it was time to clean out the innards.
The students lined up to each take a turn.
Vanessa Fregoso plunged her arm into the pumpkin's depths and came up with a handful of seeds and fibrous strings.
Taie stood ready to pluck out the seeds to save and throw away the rest.
"Yuck, why'd we have to do that? Gross!" Fregoso exclaimed as she washed her hands.
One after the other the students traipsed by the pumpkin, slowly extracting gobs of gunk.
"Rake, Donnie, pull up the side and get a big handful," Taie said to Donnie Gallagher as he pushed up his sleeve and stuck his hand inside.
Then he headed hands outstretched and dripping with orange strings for a white bucket full of water and a towel.
Some of the seeds will be roasted for a crispy treat.
The others are saved for future projects, Taie said.
In December or January, the students will separate the seeds into batches of ten, then practice counting for a math lesson.
Then, in the spring, each student will plant their own pumpkin seed in a container as a science project. Once it begins to grow, they get to take it home and plant it in their yards.
In the midst of carving the facial features, the students decided to name the pumpkin.
Each child threw out a suggestion.
"Bad Dog" was the winner.
"Think he's going to bark or something on us?" Taie asked with a smile as she sliced away at the pumpkin's 3-inch thick hide.
"Here comes the eyebrow," she said, pushing a crescent of pumpkin meat onto the newspaper-covered table.
"Yea!" the students shouted, applauding her efforts.
Their teacher swiped a hand across her forehead.
"Maybe we'll read a story. Boy, I'm tired," Taie grinned.
The class just crowded around her, encouraging her to finish carving the face.
For some, it was the first time they'd ever touched the insides of a pumpkin.
"I've had years when all 20 of them have never touched the insides of a pumpkin," Taie said.
For Rachel Bohrer, it was a first.
"It felt good. Slimey," she said.
Others weren't so impressed.
"I'm not smelling that pumpkin again," Gallagher said, pinching his nose and giving the pumpkin a wide berth on the way back to his seat.