By Tazia Oxendine and Skylar Peitsch
Grades 7 and 8, NCSS
Earlier this year, Mrs. Higgins’ class, specifically the two of us, conducted a lesson using eggs. We learned about and then taught our classmates about energy. Everyone designed a device prototype that would catch an egg from a certain height, and protect the egg, and keep it from breaking using only one sheet of construction paper, four pieces of printer paper, one foot of tape, and a ruler. We compared the catching device to helmets, knee pads, band-aids, mouth guards, and boxing gloves, etc. We compared them because a helmet keeps you safe if you fall, so a student’s egg device should keep an egg safe if it were to fall. We discussed ideas concerning physical protection to human beings and other objects, the attributes of design, engineering design, the role of troubleshooting product design, the abilities to apply the design process, and how to create a device that can catch an egg dropped from a height without the egg breaking. We learned all about kinetic energy, potential energy, mechanical energy, thermal energy, gravitational potential energy, friction, gravity, and speed.
We even got to use a plumb-bob (a weight, usually with a pointed tip on the bottom, that is suspended from a string and used as a vertical reference line, or plumb-line) to show us where our eggs will drop into our protection device, but in the beginning we couldn’t use a plumb-bob, because we had to test the eggs outside, and there wasn’t a place to attach one. During testing, Skylar and I missed our prototype the majority of the time. In addition to the egg-drop activity, we also made eggs without the shell, otherwise known as naked eggs, by soaking them in vinegar for 24 hours. When you leave an egg sit in vinegar, the shell dissolves. Vinegar contains acetic acid, which breaks apart the solid calcium carbonate crystals that make up the eggshell into their calcium and carbonate parts. The calcium ions float free (calcium ions are atoms that are missing electrons), while the carbonate goes to make carbon dioxide—the bubbles that you see.
My favorite part of the whole project was when we created naked eggs, and when we got to finally drop eggs with the whole class; we were laughing and having so much fun! The team most successful in the egg-drop was the team formed of Hannah Rumney and Grace Lopez; their egg made it through to the third round without it cracking. It was funnel shaped and wide enough to catch the egg and had some extra padding in the bottom. When the egg dropped, the device bent slightly but was repairable. They worked really well together to create something that would protect the egg without malfunctioning.
We really enjoyed doing this project. It was a great learning experience for everyone in the class, and we all had fun.