How do you keep a falling egg from breaking when it hits the ground?
That is a question scholars in Mr. Craig Conger’s 9th grade science classes attempted to answer this week while competing in an egg drop competition.
“Over the next couple of weeks we are going to be learning about forces in motion,” said Mr. Conger. “They have already learned about some simple forces like gravity, push and pull forces, air resistance and friction, but before we get into stuff like speed acceleration, velocity, and free fall I want them to have some sort of experience with those forces in this classroom.”
Scholars were given an imaginary budget of $100 with which they could purchase supplies to craft a vessel to protect their egg.
Toothpicks, string and paperclips cost $2, straws sold for $3 each, cotton balls, pipe cleaners and rubber bands cost students $5 each, while newspapers, balloons and plastic sheets cost the most at $20 a piece.
“I feel like having to design their egg drop based on a budget is important, because it gives them another variable to work with and it can be cross curriculum for stuff like personal finance,” said Mr. Conger. “They have to be smart with what they spend. A lot of them are also coming up with new ideas and are asking to return materials and trade stuff out. At this age they need to start learning that life comes with a budget.”
After spending a day designing their egg drop contraptions, scholars then had a day, working in pairs, for construction.
“Don’t put the eggs in the balloon,” warned Mr. Conger. “That won’t work.”
Some scholars covered their eggs in cotton balls and used plastic sheets and balloons to try to slow the rate of speed the eggs would fall at.
Others crafted complex cages, designed to protect the egg, out of plastic straws and tape, while some scholars carefully crafted newspaper baskets lined with cotton to cushion the egg’s fall.
Some scholars even made parachutes out of sheets of newspaper.
Mr. Conger said the exercise would be used in future classes to help reinforce speed and acceleration calculations.
“They will have something to come back to and build off of,” he explained, noting that scholars will likely have some ideas for how their designs could have been improved after learning about theories like air resistance. “Air resistance is directionally proportional to the size of the item, so the bigger the item they make, the slower it will fall.”
Mr. Conger said he plans to also have his classes do a number of other labs based on speed and acceleration.
“We will do a lab where I roll a ball across the floor and the they calculate the speed of the ball. We will also be going outside and sprinting across the track and calculating speed,” he said. “I like to get them out of the classroom and doing stuff so it is not just sitting and taking notes or doing worksheets.”