The event had them cracking up - the eggs, not the people.
More than 100 third-graders from Hook Elementary on Friday, crowded the lawn to witness raw eggs, resting in protective homemade contraptions, be dropped from the school’s roof.
Students were given an assignment to create a carrier that would protect the egg when dropped. On Friday, their projects were put to the test.
Kim Singleton, a third grade teacher at the campus, organized the annual event that typically coincides with the Easter holiday. She said the basic premise of the assignment is to design a vessel, or container, which will protect one medium-sized raw egg from breaking when dropped from 20-plus feet.
The egg drop contest is used by teachers as a fun introduction to physics, design and engineering, said Singleton.
Given a week to brainstorm and construct their projects, third graders and their parents surely made a dash to the supermarket. Several parents who attended Friday’s contest were overheard saying the grocery stores’ egg supplies were dwindling as a result of their students’ assignment.
Singleton says students look forward to the contest each spring because they have the opportunity to create solutions to concrete problems - plus, it’s a day out of the classroom getting to see their principal drop their projects from the roof.
The third-graders then go to work, jogging their little minds to come up with ideas to keep Humpty Dumpty together during and after the fall.
With every contest, though, there are rules, said Singleton.
In a letter sent home with the students, the guidelines state egg drop entries can be made of any materials, except helium-filled balloons and fiberglass insulation. The rules also prohibit materials that could break or shatter.
Professional packing materials, such as styrofoam peanuts and bubble wrap, are not allowed either. The vessels also had to be no larger than one cubic foot.
On trial day, the schoolyard was littered with creative projects using myriad of common household items as construction materials.
The most common: cereal boxes, plastic tubs and coffee cans, all wrapped with duct and masking tape.
Another common method to slow the containers’ falls was the use of plastic grocery bags as parachutes. Most of the third-graders’ who opted for a chute were successful in getting them to open and slow the descent.
School Principal Kathy Haynes, who braves the climb to the roof, is elected each year to drop the eggs while students cheer from the ground.
Each class takes its turn and students, waiting patiently for theirs to come crashing down, chant for their classmates knowing at first-sight whose is whose.
Mostly, the students’ reactions are favorable, assuming the egg didn’t break. But oftentimes, a sigh echoes across the crowd as if they all know the yolk is gonna be showing when the container is opened.
One student, Alexis Bradford, constructed a UFO-like vessel of foam insulation. Tucked in the middle was a cotton-filled plastic sports drink bottle, taped to to the “flying saucer,” and decorated with plastic flags.
Her idea proved to be airworthy, saving the egg from its demise.
Colton Buck’s vessel also kept the shell shock within a safe limit. “I watched some video on the Internet and got the idea to add a propeller. It helps to push the parachute out.”
The budding engineer admitted his mom suggested he use cotton balls as padding around the egg.
Before coming to school, Buck said he also performed three trial runs at home. “I got on the top of my house and dropped it three times. It worked every time.”
Morgan Pinkston had an instant idea for her project, so she asked her mother for some help. “I thought it wouldn’t get broken because the Jell-O is wiggly.”
The third-grader simply filled a plastic tub with red gelatin and submersed the egg within the goo, and taped the lid close. “My mom helped me. I don’t know how to make Jell-O,” she said, as mom assured this writer that her daughter wasn’t old enough to cook, yet alone boil water.
It worked. The egg was safe and even took on a new shade of red - just in time for Easter.
Kellyn Harper found a vessel at the bottom of a closet at home and only had to modify it slightly. Using a cowboy boot she once wore, she said it seemed like a perfect fit for the contest. “I don’t know. I just thought it was pretty cool.”
Harper’s egg also survived the fall thanks to a tight fit made by stuffing the boot with cotton balls.
Singleton says the students beam with excitement upon hearing of the project. “There are always some creative ideas.”
Third grade teachers gave the biggest hint to spark their imaginations: “The main ways to keep an egg from breaking - slow the descent and absorb the energy of the impact.”
Singleton also urges the students to consider ease of construction and the amount of time they want to dedicate to their creation. “Stuffing a shoebox with paper may be easiest, but building an elaborate structure with wings and springs may be more fun.”