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The egg drop challenge is a science-type experiment that has been done in schools for decades now. The experiment can sometimes consist of students being broken off into teams to compete on who can create the best device to ensure their raw egg will survive the drop. The main objective is to take the egg in the contraption and drop it down a high altitude, such as off the roof of a building onto the pavement below. Sounds like an impossible task to be able to be done without the egg cracking or totally being smashed open, which is where the challenge comes into play. Over the years, various types of methods have been used in an attempt to fulfill the task and these have proven to be effective in their own way depending on the design and execution.
Provided Supplies or Finding Supplies
In some cases, depending on the school grade and the challenge itself, the supplies are provided. These can be things such as foam cups, foam packaging peanuts, latex balloons, rubber bands, masking tape, paper bags, scissors, and newspaper. From there, it is up to the students to take the materials and create their own device for the egg to be cradled in. While using the materials, it is an opportunity for kids to learn something about these as well. For example, foam products such as the cups aren't biodegradable and provide an excellent opportunity to teach about what is latex, and how some individuals can be allergic to the substance, so use with caution. In some cases and depending on the class, the students acquire the materials themselves, learning how to go about creating their own designs using their own types of materials to achieve the task at hand. They can use common household items, or buy stuff from dollar stores or craft stores. The choice would be theirs to make as a team.
Types of Devices Created
As stated, this is a creative challenge where teams come up with their own designs. However, there have been some tried-and-true methods that have worked in doing the egg drop challenge.
- Foam Cup Method: With this version, eight styrofoam cups are used. Inside one cup is placed a rock, then six other cups are stacked on top of this one. Place the egg in the cup at the very top, once this is done take the eighth cup and turn it upside down, placing it over the cup with the egg inside. Once covered, take the masking tape and securely take the two cups together, encasing the egg inside. A trick to having this method work is to ensure that the rock chosen is heavier than the egg so that the cups will drop and not tilt over.
- Cereal Method: Very simple and only involves a plastic sandwich bag with Ziploc capabilities and crispy rice cereal. Fill the bag with the cereal, then place the egg inside, cradling the cereal around it. Mark the bag with the word egg, then seal it. Take four additional bags and fill these with cereal, only sealing these as well. Once done, get a gallon size bag, place the egg bag inside, and surround it with the other cereal bags, close this bag.
Size of Drop is a Key Factor
The methods outlined above are fairly simple and could be effective when, say, doing an egg drop from say a ladder. However, in some cases, the drop is higher, such as off a 20 story building. When this is the case, the device requires more of a sophisticated design, such as creating what is known as an egg parachute or egg raft. In other words, it takes more time to create something effective. The egg drop challenge has stood the test of time because it continues to not just teach about gravity, but challenges students to be problem solvers and to be creative at the same time.