Egg drop teaches STEM

Published 9:23 pm Monday, December 23, 2019

Over several weeks, student design teams from Northern Shores and Creekside elementary schools, along with Col. Fred Cherry Middle School, “worked” for the fictitious decorations company Tinsel Trinket LLC.

Customers of the fictitious store were frustrated with breaking eggs, so students needed to use their science, technology, engineering and math skills to design ornaments that could withstand a drop and cradle the eggs while also showcasing holiday magic.

They were limited, however, in the materials they were able to use — craft sticks, Styrofoam, pipe cleaners, Legos, cardboard, tin foil, straws, paper, tape and cotton balls.

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That’s it.

On Challenge Day at Col. Fred Cherry Dec. 17, the students put their designs to the test, dropping them from the second floor, hoping that when they opened their ornament, the egg would still be intact.

And though not every egg survived the drop, students still gained valuable skills, and one group, Northern Shores’ All-Girls STEM Club, had all of their eggs land intact. Every group competing, including Creekside’s fifth-grade gifted students and Col. Fred Cherry’s Makerspace Club, had at least one egg land intact.

Col. Fred Cherry gifted resource teacher Megan Farabaugh, co-sponsor with sixth and seventh grade science teacher Leslie Bulger of CYBER Hawks — Cherry Youth in Basic Engineering and Robotics — said students worked in small groups on two meeting days in December to create their blueprints and designs.

“We’re looking at the five C’s (citizenship, creative thinking, communication, collaboration and critical thinking), but not only that, we’re getting them to work not only within their school, but outside of their school,” Bulger said. “We’re fostering that togetherness between the schools as well, knowing that they are going to end up here eventually, getting to see us, that they’re going to probably feed into our engineering club as well, that it fosters those relationships. Nobody’s alone.”

Anna Russell, the gifted resource teacher at Creekside, said her students were excited for the opportunity. They were gaining tangible skills, such as collaboration and working with others, and using the materials they had to engineer a concept and design to keep the egg from breaking.

“It was exciting to see their ideas, see them work together, collaborate with each other to figure out what would be the best design,” Russell said.

She said students need experiences like the egg drop to engage them in learning.

“We need to get them actively engaged and excited about learning,” Russell said. “And paper, pencil, that’s just not going to work, even computers sometimes nowadays. So this was something that was hands-on, that they got to actually experience. It had them excited and testing their theories and whether it worked or not.”

The Creekside team of David Yohe, Jax Davis and Benjamin Harrison created a design for their ornament, nicknamed Mr. Jenkins, that kept their egg from breaking.

Jax said the nickname for their ornament came off the top of his head.

“The inside is filled with tinfoil, so the egg that would hit the ground would be absorbed by the little balls at the bottom (of the ornament),” Jax said. “It’s also so that it’ll stay weighted and land on its skis.”

He said the group shaded the back of the skis (popsicle sticks) to make it look like it was leaving tracks.
“He’s the skiing, golfing snowman,” Davis said.

He screamed in excitement when it landed and they found out the egg had not broken.

Harrison, too, was excited, but he didn’t expect the egg to stay intact.

“I thought it would break into a thousand pieces,” Benjamin said.

He thought it was the tinfoil inside that protected the egg, and then the popsicle sticks and paper underneath. And when it landed with an unbroken egg inside?

“I started dancing out of nowhere,” Benjamin said. “I was really excited when I saw it landed and the egg was still there. I just started dancing like I’ve never danced before.”

David said he was happy to see that his group’s design worked. He thought the paper made the difference in keeping the egg from cracking because it broke the fall for the ornament.

“I had a feeling it was going to live,” David said. “It was destiny.”