Posted on 08/30/2017
Egg Drop

Often times, students are tasked with an egg drop project, utilizing variables including time, velocity, acceleration and average speed to hit a specific target.  Sometimes the goal is to break the egg, while other times it is to keep the egg intact.  The approach for students in Mrs. Stell’s 8th grade math classes was quite different.  While Stell tasked her students with creating a vessel to successfully drop an egg without it breaking, her goal wasn’t so much about the egg itself.  

“The main goal of the project is teamwork.  It is really important for kids to learn to work together because of the workforce, and that is what companies are saying.  Kids need to be able to work together to get a product done, and we talked about how that collaboration is the finished product.  If cooperation is needed because kids can’t get along or employees can’t get along, it means the finished product is just the ending, but it isn’t going to make for happy employees if you can’t get along to get to that product,” said Stell.

As students entered the room, and took their seats in groups of four, Stell began discussing the practice of good teamwork.  Upon asking the students what three words exhibit good teamwork, the students immediately responded with collaboration, cooperation and perseverance.  Stell then asked students to set a goal for themselves, pondering the question, “What do you need to do to be a better team member when it comes to those three things?”

After a brief explanation of the team activity, Stell prepared the students for their final discussion to help guide their process by sharing the two questions they would discuss, including what worked well for the group in terms of teamwork, and what challenges were faced.  Students then grabbed 50 straws, a piece of paper, 3 meters of duct tape, and got to work with a 20-minute time limit. 

As students discussed various methods, Sean Connor described his idea to the group, saying, “Basically you use straws to build a pyramid around the egg, and then you tape the bigger straws to the pyramid so that way when it lands on the opening of the straw, the straw obtains the blow without going inside the egg to crack the egg.”  Abby Horst’s group shared their plan to make a platform for the egg, almost like a basket, and utilize the paper as a parachute.  The clock ticked, and as the deadline drew closer, students were forced into quick action to complete their project.

When the buzzer rang, the students headed outside to drop their eggs.  Stell climbed atop a ladder and dropped them, one at a time.  After all the eggs had been dropped, the students opened them up to see whose eggs survived.  Devin Dirkx and his group held the only egg that was completely intact when the straws, tape and paper had been torn away.  “We made triangles out of the straws.  We had a bunch of triangles put together, and we wadded it with tape.  On the bottom, we made sure that we had some support so that it wouldn’t break when it fell, and then we had a parachute that made it slower when it went down.  On the bottom we had little squares, and then we made sure to put a bunch of tape around the squares, so then when it fell, the tape and the straws would take all of the impact instead of the egg,” explained Dirkx. 

Once back inside the classroom, Stell led the students in a discussion to summarize the experience.  Asking the students what worked well when it came to collaboration, cooperation and perseverance, each student shared their thoughts for 15 seconds within their group, and in the same manner, they discussed what was challenging to your group in terms of teamwork.  Stell also challenged the students to consider how, as individuals, they could be a better team member and how they can become a better team member throughout the school year.