Teaching by tossing pumpkins

Robert Hite

Dropping pumpkins from the top of Cessna Stadium at a Wichita State does not appear to be linked to academics — at least at first.

It is the type of activity that junior Reed Bowles likes because it gives him the opportunity to teach.

“It’s a fun way to see a physics problem,” he said. “It’s easy for non-physics students to understand. It’s a really fun experiment for people who like to see things destroyed.”

Bowles is majoring in mathematics and physics and is a physics laboratory-teaching assistant and is part of the Wichita Honors Event and Activities Team (WHEAT). He is president of the Society of Physics Students (SPS).

He said the activity, temporarily scheduled for Oct. 26, is an opportunity to reach out to WSU and Wichita Public School students.

When he is not planning the pumpkin drop, he is studying.

“I spend the large majority of my day doing homework, five or six hours a day doing homework,” Bowles, 20, said. “I love it. My main passion is the passion for learning.”

He also enjoys being a teaching assistant because of the opportunity to teach others about physics.

“I love explaining things to people,” he said. “In the lab class, it’s trial and error. To explain things is a challenge. I get a kick out of it.”

A part of the challenge comes from being wrong, having to go back and explain it correctly, Bowles said. He likes working with getting it right and having to clarify what he said. Then, when the students grasp what he means, he gets a thrill out of it.

“I like other people having that experience themselves,” he said.

Bowles spends two days a week preparing and teaching the labs. Another two days are spent researching experimental high-energy participle physics with a professor.

“When I get those things done, it feels wonderful and I can go to bed,” he said.