Students at local elementary school build vessels to keep eggs from cracking during a fall for special annual project
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
Students from the Grayling Adventist Elementary School – a private institution for kids in grades K-8 located at Camp AuSable – took on a unique challenge last week, designing vessels to keep eggs from cracking during a fall from three different distances.
What did the final designs look like? Some used balloons. Some used boxes. Some used boxes and balloons. One was shaped like a plane. Another looked like a cage. One thing they could not do this year during the project? Use parachutes.
“In years past, I’ve allowed them to use parachutes. This year, in order to add an additional challenge, I didn’t allow parachutes,” said Grayling Adventist Elementary School teacher Benjamin Zork. “Despite this criteria, we had more students survive than in years past. I think this was because they had to be more intentional about the overall integrity of their designs, rather than rely on a parachute.”
Zork used a lift to drop the vessels from three different distances on Wednesday at the school. He started at 15 feet. The survivors advanced to the 30-foot drop. The final drop was 55 feet.
How did they do?
“Two students lost their egg on the first drop, two more students on the second drop, and four on the third drop. Eight total eggs survived the drop from 55 feet,” Zork said.
“The vessels that did best had adequate padding around the egg and had some way of slowing down the descent. Balloons or large flat ‘wings’ were effective at doing this. By increasing wind resistance, several of the winning eggs achieved a relatively slow terminal velocity (the maximum speed an object can fall under the force of gravity). This, coupled with lots of padding, meant the eggs survived,” Zork said.
Can one tell by looking at the finished design if it will protect the egg during the drop? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.
“There were a few surprises. Several younger students focused on the simple principles of padding and slowing down the descent. Their projects were not extravagant. Some older students focused on complex designs that didn’t work as well. One of the surviving eggs belonged to Evelyn Jenkins and Elayna Jenkins who worked together. Their design was a box filled with padding, with blue balloons on the outside to slow down the descent,” Zork said.
“I was very happy with the results,” Zork said.
The egg drop project offers the students fun, competition, and learning. Leading up to the drop, they learned about “forces and motion” and studied “Newton’s three Laws of Motion (Law of Inertia, Law of Acceleration, and Law of Action-Reaction),” Zork said.
“We are working on a physical science unit. Students learned that elastic collision occurs when objects collide so that kinetic energy is conserved along with momentum. This was important for them to consider in the context of Newton’s first law of motion. Objects, once in motion, tend to stay in motion. This is the law of inertia. Students understood that when their egg containers came to a sudden and complete stop when hitting the ground, their eggs would want to remain traveling at the same speed. This was the challenge they had to overcome. If an unprotected egg were to hit the ground, the elastic collision and resulting transfer of energy would break the egg’s shell. Students’ designs were meant to address this issue,” Zork said.
The winning students, according to the school, included: Morgan Stahl, 6th grade; Jensen Hoffman, 8th grade; Emma Jenkins, 5th grade; Jenga Robinson, 4th grade; Joshua Espinal, 8th grade; Evelyn Jenkins, 1st grade; Elayna Jenkins, 3rd grade; Cole Marsh, 6th grade; Joshua Jacobs, 7th grade; Hadassah Larcher, 4th grade; Emmanuel Larcher, 6th grade; Josiah Espinal, 6th grade; Levi Engle, 3rd grade.