Students egg-cited about engineering |

Students egg-cited about engineering

An initial drop height of 50 feet is used for the Egg Drop Challenge courtesy of the East Fork Fire Department's engine Wednesday at Minden Elementary.
Brad Coman |

“100 feet! 100 feet!” chanted more than 100 fifth-graders as East Fork Fire Department firefighters extended their ladder and launched the students’ “egg-stronauts” during the second annual Egg Drop Challenge Wednesday at Meneley and Minden elementary schools.

The Egg Drop Challenge is the culminating activity for Douglas County School District’s Next Generation Science Standards science kit on gravity. The kit covers motion and gravity and its effects, as well as engineering design with time, material and monetary constraints.

Scarselli Elementary School students also participated in the challenge at Meneley.

“The objective is engineering stemming from gravity and teaching how gravity pulls everything to the center of the Earth,” said Meneley fifth-grade teacher Cathy Hackler. “It teaches problem solving and using a fixed material lists.”

Hackler and Tamar McKean, a fifth-grade teacher at Minden Elementary school, coordinated the project.

“It’s a wonderful hands on activity and gets the kids excited about science, critical thinking and analyzing,” said McKean.

The challenge revolves around science, technology, engineering and math, she said.

Students were split into groups and worked together to build a device that would protect an egg when dropped from 10 feet, 50 feet and 100 feet.

The students were given imaginary money to purchase materials such as newspapers, Popsicle sticks, Styrofoam, balloons, marshmallows, Rice Krispies and paper cups.

Hackler compared the project to Apollo 13, a 1970 space flight intended to land on the moon, where limited materials and problem solving were critical to protect the “egg-stronauts.”

“It’s really important to have the right stuff around the egg and not put too much in the bag,” said Scarselli elementary fifth-grader Logan Karwoski.

After their devices were built students dropped the eggs from 10 feet then analyzed the results.

“The best part was dropping it for the first time and then figuring out what our group could do better,” said Minden fifth-grader Harmony Campbell. “It was really nerve-wracking because you don’t know if it is going to survive, so that is the real exciting part.”

Part of the analysis was to weigh the devices and decide whether weight made a difference. Students then modified the designs of their devices.

Following the modifications the eggs were dropped from 50 feet. Eggs that survived the drop moved on to the 100-foot challenge.

The students cheered and hollered as the East Fork Firefighters, Chad Sheldrew, Capt. Jeff James and paramedic/firefighter Mike Hackler launched the “egg-stronauts” one by one.

“They even made their own device,” Linda Fields, Scarselli elementary school assistant principal, said of the firefighters. “They used the same materials and created it within the same time the kids did.”

Fields said the activity would not have been the same without the fire department.

“We want to thank East Fork Fire Department for coming out and helping us make this activity happen,” she said. “If it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t be able to drop the eggs from the different heights.”

In the end there were five surviving “eggstronauts” from Minden, four from Scarselli and eight from Meneley.

Fields said the schools hope to continue the project and want to expand and improve it.

“The ultimate goal is to make this project district-wide and to engage more students in science, technology, engineering and math,” she said.