SOURCE Lesson Plans Detail

The Egg Drop Challenge

Topic Engineering
Program Brown Science Prep
Developed by Manu Venkat, Raghava Kamalesh, Jonathan Sit
Developer Type Undergraduate students

Overview / Purpose / Essential Questions

How can we engineer safe designs?

Performance / Lesson Objective(s)

Students will use basic principles of engineering and safety design to create a device that will protect an egg while it is dropped.

Lesson Materials

List of Materials (per group):

Plastic straws (~30)

Popsicle sticks (~20)

Scotch tape (1 roll)

Paper (10 sheets)

CVS grocery bag (1)

Ziploc sandwich bag (1)

Clear plastic Dixie cups (3)

*note: egg should not fit perfectly in dixie cup (would make it too easy)

Stapler (can be shared between groups)

String or Yarn (~10 feet)

Cardboard (~2 square feet)

Lesson Motivation

Engineering challenges are a good way to encourage students to participate and engage in science.


Lesson Outline: Car Safety

Part 1: the human body, and what it can handle

- Humans are relatively fragile

- Outside forces applied on our bodies can cause damage

- Ask students: what are some examples of situations where outside forces can injure a person (examples: car accident, falling and hitting the ground, getting punched)

- Ultimately, it is a large forces that cause injury

Part 2: F=MA

- Write equation on the board and define F, M, and A

- (maybe?) talk about Issac Newton, or at least mention that this is one of his laws of motion

- Look at the equation, and figure out what contributes to a higher F (higher M, higher A)

Part 3: Strategies to protect humans from injury

- How can we reduce the forces that are applied to the body during things that can potentially injure us?

- Ask students for examples of things that can protect us from injury (seat belts, parachutes, air bags, helmets)

- Two main ways to protect our bodies: increase the amount of time a force is applied (thereby reducing magnitude of the acceleration), or apply the force over a larger area

Part 4: Increasing the time a force is applied

- A simpler way to say this is “shock absorption”

- If you were falling towards the ground, what would you rather land on? A soft or hard surface? Concrete or a trampoline?

- Why is a soft surface better?  The force that is slowing you down is applied over a longer time!

- Cars: airbags!

- If you got into a crash, its better that your head hits a soft airbag than a hard steering wheel

- This also impacts how cars are designed

- *show crash test video* Cars are now designed to crumple and fold, so that you experience less of a sudden deceleration

- *we could also show stuntpeople landing on cardboard boxes?*

Part 5: Transferring a force over a bigger area

- A given force can do more damage to you if it is applied over a smaller area.  It’s the difference between the effects of getting pushed by the large area of a hand, or getting stabbed by the much smaller point of a sword

- this is how helmets and safety pads work

- Talk about eggs: eggs can handle a large amount of force is it is applied evenly all over the surface of the egg, but you can easily crack an egg with a small force applied on a small area (like a knife)

Part 6: Explain the rules of the egg drop

- Hand out the worksheets:

- Talk them through it

Part 7: Tips and tricks for protecting your eggs

- You want to find ways to reduce the force applied to your egg when it hits the ground

- You can find ways to slow the speed of the egg as it falls so that the acceleration when it hits the ground is less.

    - Air resistance (parachutes, flying squirrels)

- You can find ways to shock-absorb your egg

    - Make an airbag, use padding

- You should make sure the force of impact is transmitted evenly to your egg

    - If your egg is surrounded by sharp surfaces, it will probably crack

Wrap up / Conclusion

Students will test their devices by dropping them from a predetermined height. Students will receive points for how effective their design is.

Follow up

Students will have the opportunity to make changes to their design after the first drop.

Supplies List

1BoxConstruction Paper
1BoxGallon Zipper bags
1BoxPaper cups

Alignment Info

Audience(s) High school students
STEM Area(s) Engineering
Physical Sciences (RI GSE) PS3.3-4.7a
Students demonstrate an understanding of motion by… predicting the direction and describing the motion of objects (of different weights, shapes, sizes, etc.) if a force is applied to it.
Activity Type(s) Hands-on
Grade Level(s) High School
Version 1
Created 05/29/2013 01:17 PM
Updated 12/20/2018 11:57 AM