Egg drops involve taking a raw egg, dropping it from a certain height, and cushioning or parachuting it in some way to avoid breakage. Students will make predictions, then use trial and error to test their predictions. Egg drops usually start at a height of one story, but when students find a cushioning agent that works with a one-story drop, they may want to try it again from a height of two or even three stories. There are several different ways to cushion the egg: the traditional egg drop, the bungee or parachute egg drop, or the naked egg drop.
Egg drop activities are an engaging way to introduce kindergarten through eighth grade students to physics concepts. They promote inquiry, critical thinking, interest in science and teamwork. Since there are different types of egg drops, be sure to research them to and chose the one that works best for you. Or, create a school-wide Egg Drop Day and give each type of egg drop a try.
Traditional Egg Drop
The traditional egg drop involves surrounding an egg surrounded with cushioning material. It is placed inside a container, such as an empty milk carton, then dropped. Traditional ideas for cushioning materials include puffed rice cereal, white bread, feathers or liquids; however, it is important that students generate ideas for the material on their own. Students should make predictions, experiment with different materials, discuss the results, then form conclusions based on the outcome.
Bungee or Parachute Egg Drop
The bungee or parachute drop involves attaching something to the egg to break the fall. For the bungee drop, students create bungee cords out of rubber bands and attach them to eggs. The eggs are then dropped from a high place into a tub of water. For the parachute drop, students construct homemade parachutes of differing sizes and made of differing materials and attach them to the eggs, then drop them to the ground. Students can form conclusions based on the length of the bungee cords and size and material of the parachutes.
Naked Egg Drop
The naked egg drop involves an unprotected egg which is dropped onto a landing structure designed by the students. Divide students into small groups of three to four. Provide materials for building a structure such as wood craft sticks and rubber bands; and cushioning materials such as bubble wrap and feathers. Give the students a set amount of time — such as 30 minutes — to plan and build their structures. Allow each team to test their landing structure under the same conditions such as height and wind speed. Continue to drop the eggs from higher heights until only one team remains with an unbroken egg. Discuss the aspects of the winning landing structure that enabled it to best cushion the egg.
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