"I like the complexity of it," Stephen said. "With stuff like this you have to create a plan and experiment and test to see what works and what doesn't, so it helps with formulating ideas and brainstorming."
In the high school division, Greenbrier East ultimately took the second-place trophy and $75 prize, finishing just behind Scott High School, which received a $100 prize.
Sherman Junior High students, who took second place behind South Charleston Middle in their division, based their design on math formulas.
Michael Hensley, an eighth-grader at Sherman, explained that his group had to figure out how fast their pumpkin would travel and the force with which it would hit the target. His group used paint stir sticks to stabilize the pumpkin in its cardboard box and absorb the force of the final blow.
Other pumpkins that successfully survived the drop without any cracks had simpler designs.
Sherman Elementary students, who took first in the elementary category, used bubble wrap, sponges and duct tape to make sure their pumpkin stayed in one piece in its cardboard box.
"None of the others is going to live except ours," said Baylea Craig, a sixth-grade student at Sherman Elementary.
New River Elementary took second in that division.
Although not all of the pumpkins survived Thursday's smashing good time, all the teachers agreed the lessons learned about math and science were what mattered.
Sarah Stover, a teacher at Horace Mann Middle School, wanted her class of gifted students to gain an appreciation for working together.
"Problem solving is definitely a skill they learn from this because it is absolutely cooperative learning. All of their efforts go toward one answer that they all need for one product, so they all have to come together to solve the puzzle," Stover said.
Other winners from Thursday's pumpkin drop included Huntington High School, most creative design; Mountaineer Montessori, most sustainable design; and Mountaineer Montessori, grand slam pumpkin.
Contact writer Amber Marra at amber.ma...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4843.