McKINNEY — Like all great pioneers of science, Grant Vollmer and C.J. Wilson are not afraid to tackle hot-button topics – even when their research findings could interfere with their extracurricular aspirations.

For their science fair research project, which they presented at the Elementary Regional Science Fair in Garland earlier in February, the two fifth-graders from Wilmeth Elementary, tackled the topic of helmet safety with a project called “Protect Your Melon.” In the process, they won a first place trophy and experienced the exciting convergence of science, helmet safety and the thrill of dropping watermelons from a ladder.

The idea for the project took root when Grant and C.J. tried to convince their respective parents to let them play tackle football. Helmet safety is of course the sports topic du jour, so the course of their discussions left the boys wondering, “Are all safety helmets created equal?” Perhaps they could demonstrate through the scientific method that playing football was as safe as any other activity.

Grant and C.J. wanted to know, so they grabbed a bicycle helmet, a lacrosse helmet, a football helmet and 15 ripe watermelons to find out which headgear provided the most protection. They secured a watermelon inside each helmet, climbed a ladder and started dropping. They meticulously documented each round of testing.

They of course were looking for watermelons which sustained the least amount of damage. Their control group melons – which had no helmet protection at all – suffered the most, as one would expect. (They did however provide the most entertainment.)

But, the best performer in the experiment turned out to be the bicycle helmet. The worst? The football helmet. Which is not exactly what Grant and C.J. were hoping for.

“We were surprised because we thought the football helmet would have the most protection,” said C.J. It was an unexpected turn, but what followed was not as surprising. “Our parents were thinking of letting us play tackle football, but now they want to make us wait since the football helmet did not do well,” said C.J.

“They had a great time dropping the helmets and smashing the melons,” said Grant’s mother, Melissa Vollmer. “Both sets of parents have been hesitant to let them play tackle football, and this project helped us with our argument considering the football helmet yielded the most damage to the melons,” she added.

So, our fearless heroes, Grant and C.J. will have to find other research to support their quest for football glory.

But, in the meantime, one fact highlighted by their project bears revisiting, and it’s one that they’ve been asked to share with their entire school: “Helmet” beats “no helmet.”

So, protect your melon, kid.

For additional information on McKinney ISD, contact Shane Mauldin, MISD Communications Coordinator, at 469-302-4007 or


About McKinney ISD

One of the fastest growing school districts in Texas, the McKinney Independent School District currently enrolls more than 24,750 students in 20 elementary schools, five middle schools, three high schools, four alternative schools and one early childhood education school. The mission of McKinney ISD, the champion for progressive learning throughout the diverse McKinney community, is to inspire and equip all students to explore, develop and express their unique potential as innovators, critical thinkers and collaborators through challenging, engaging and diverse learning experiences in vital partnership with the community. Visit the district's website at