Barnesville eighth graders were challenged to use their knowledge of engineering and Newton’s laws of physics to design a contraption that would effectively protect and egg from a 3.8 meter drop from the school roof. The designs needed to resist external forces and protect the eggs from cracking.
Working in teams, students had to first create a detailed concept design. Then, with a budget of 100 credits and a price sheet for various materials, they had to select materials to build their contraptions.
Students completed a series of theoretical calculations based on the mass of an egg, the building height of 3.8 meters, and the acceleration rate of gravity. They calculated the average force exerted on an egg as it falls to the ground and the velocity at which an egg hits the ground without any protection. They also calculated the related kinetic and potential energy.
Having a better understanding of the force the fall and impact would have on an unprotected egg, teams then set out to build protective devices, recording the mass of their finished projects.
Next, it was off to the roof!
Teams took turns dropping their protected eggs, recording the time from release to impact. Eggs in devices with makeshift parachutes that delayed the time of impact fared best. Four out of the five devices took more than a second to hit the ground. The egg that landed in under a second cracked, despite having ample padding.
The victorious teams celebrated by smashing their eggs against a fence!
After the field testing, students used the data they collected to calculate the acceleration rate for each device, the average force of the impacts, the velocity of each egg’s drop, and the kinetic and potential energy involved.