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Pumpkin Science with JAWS

We dissected pumpkins and documented our findings using JAWS. Putting JAWS instruction into mainstream science. Here is the lesson breakdown.

A pumpkin with a carver and a scoop next to a laptop computer with JAWS accessibility on it

By: Kathryn Heitman & Kathi Garza

If you’re looking for some more fall fun, you’ve found it here! Using this pumpkin dissection lesson, you can infuse JAWS instruction with mainstream science and add in a bit of concept development for good measure. 

Student with headphones on using a laptop with a large font keyboard. A pumpkin is next to him.

Working on JAWS for an extended period of time with elementary students during Short-Term Programs can be a bit exhausting for the students. We have found that balancing computer time with hands-on activities that students can write about later is very helpful. This week, we dissected pumpkins and documented our findings using JAWS. Here is the lesson breakdown. 

Prerequisite Skills

During previous sessions for this program, students have worked on basic windows keyboard shortcuts and JAWS commands. Students were able to search for and open documents, navigate the document using the arrow keys, and execute basic reading commands. 

Lesson Breakdown

Day 1 – During 2 consecutive class periods, students completed the pumpkin dissection and collected data using pre-made forms. (See materials below to download the forms.)

Day 2 – Students counted the seeds harvested from their pumpkins and documented this on their documents, along with the other information collected while exploring the inside of the pumpkin.


  • Laptop with JAWS
  • 1 pie pumpkin for each student
  • Adapted tape measure
  • Pumpkin carving tool
  • Scoop and spoons for each student
  • 1 thumbtack for each student
  • 1 tray for each student
  • Plastic cup for each student
  • Tabletop cover for each desk
  • Pumpkin Science Part 1 Document
  • Pumpkin Science Part 2 Document


  1. Instruct each student to open the Pumpkin Science Part 1 document on their laptop. 
  2. Students should use the “read all” command to listen to the document in its entirety.
  3. Present a pumpkin to each student and ask them to read each question individually and answer it at the end of the line. When students are prepared to count the ribs of the pumpkin, present them with a thumbtack or push pin so they can mark their starting point.
  4. After exploring and collecting data for the outside of the pumpkin, use Pumpkin Science Part 2 to explore the inside of the pumpkin. 
  5. Instruct each student to open the Pumpkin Science Part 2 document on their laptop. 
  6. Students should use the “read all” command to listen to the document in its entirety.
  7. Students will answer questions 5-7 on their document while the teacher cuts open the pumpkin and adds a protective cover over the desk.
  8. Working with a peer or an adult, students should explore the inside of the pumpkin and collect the seeds into their plastic cup. Partners should record the answers for questions 1-4 of Pumpkin Science Part 2 so that the students can document them later with JAWS.
  9. When students have finished, encourage them to help clean up.
  10. On Day 2, present the washed seeds to students so they can count them and determine whether or not the seed count estimate they made was accurate. 
Hands measuring using a tape measure.
The tape measure is being used to measure around the pumpkin.

Extensions and Adaptations

  • Offer physical support, using hand under hand, to students who are tactually selective and unwilling to touch the inside of the pumpkin.
  • Remove the use of JAWS for students who do not have the prerequisite skills to participate in that component of the lesson. Students can do the pumpkin dissection in isolation without using JAWS.
  • Find a recipe and make a fall treat out of your pumpkin or roast the pumpkin seeds. 
  • Ask students to carve or paint the outside of their pumpkin and write a descriptive paragraph about what they’ve created.
  • Write pumpkin poems with your students using JAWS.
  • Create a pumpkin life cycle book with students depicting each part of the pumpkin and how it came to be.
Student putting their hand inside the pumpkin to get out the seeds and pulp.

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