A fifth grade science class at Laurel Hill Elementary found themselves assigned a seemingly impossible task: to drop an egg from a height of over 30 feet without breaking it.
Fortunately, their teacher, Amber Hutchins, had armed them with a wealth of knowledge about how things fall. Soon the students were well on their way to constructing apparatus that might prevent their eggs from breaking upon impact with the ground.
Scotland County Schools’ electrician Glen Cowan stepped in to help with Thursday’s project trials, riding a lift to 38 feet above the ground in order to drop students’ egg-laden projects onto the blacktop.
The students’ projects took every form from boxes filled with foam and paper to open cubic frames with the egg in the center.
“We talked a lot about when energy is released, how it becomes kinetic,” Hutchins said. “When it hits the ground, something has to absorb that energy. They did a really good job of thinking through that problem, and they came up with some really good ideas.”
Of the 19 students in the class, 11 of the eggs survived the fall unscathed. Eight others were not so lucky.
“First I had to figure out what was going to make my egg not break inside my project,” said Kwali Pate. “I thought cotton and lots and lots of tape would work, but it didn’t.”
Many students thought outside of the box, or rather inside their lunchbox, when searching for soft materials to cushion their eggs.
“My idea was to take paper plates and a cup and put the egg inside the cup with bread and put paper plates on the bottom to take air away from it while it was falling,” said Jeremiah McCrimmon, whose construction proved effective. “She said we could use any type of thing that was soft, and bread is a real soft item.”
Jamaura Baker utilized the soft gooey wonder of marshmallows to successfully protect her egg, but another student placed his egg inside a bag of Cocoa Puffs to little avail.
Some students were a little overzealous in their use of padding, placing excessive pressure on their eggs.
“I thought foam rubber would take most of the impact, but I think I used too much of it and pushed it down too hard,” said John Bass, who inspected his project after its trial only to find it permeated with egg yolk.
Although some students were visibly disappointed with their broken eggs, all was not lost, for adherence to the project rubric worked in their favor.
“They had certain objectives they had to meet: they had to have a certain size, a certain weight, and obviously the egg had to survive,” said Hutchins. “Even if their egg didn’t survive, they could have met all of the other qualifications and still made a good grade.”
“The requirement was, if you had 150 grams or less, you get 20 points, and mine was 135 grams, so I got full points for that,” Kwali chimed in.
Cameron Hudson subjected her project to an exacting series of home trials, in order to ensure success in front of her classmates.
“I did probably 10 to 15 trials, and the egg kept falling out, so I think where I put my tape helped keep it from splitting up,” said Cameron, who placed her egg inside of a segment of pool noodle. “I think my project worked because I made a pocket on the bottom to take some of the impact of the force that was acting on it. I think the lightweight materials helped it not to fall as hard because the more mass, the harder it’s going to hit.”