In the Classroom: Physics 2

WMS physics teacher Renee Blacken helps her class put lessons into practice with a fun engineering exercise: the egg drop!
Concepts like impulse, momentum, impact force and air resistance can seem almost theoretical to the average high school physics class. WMS physics teacher Renee Blacken helps her class put these concepts into practice with a fun engineering exercise: the egg drop!

Renee’s students were faced with an interesting task. Paired off into groups, they had to build a device that could protect a raw egg as it fell to the ground, using only the materials provided: construction paper, string, newspaper, pipe cleaners, coffee stirrers, duct tape, cardboard, and Popsicle sticks. With limits on the amount of each material and a maximum size of 12” x 12” x 12”, they would need all of their ingenuity to protect their egg from the long fall ahead.

The most surprising thing was the variety of egg protection devices produced as students searched the net and wracked their brains for the best way to protect their eggs from impact. How should cushioning be distributed? How necessary is a sturdy frame to your structure? Is it worth the limited time to build a suspension system within the structure you’ve built? What about a parachute? These are all questions the student engineers asked themselves as they constructed their designs, and they came to some varied and fascinating conclusions, ranging so far that one group actually invented a device that would safely catch a dropped egg in addition to one that would carry it down to the ground.

After the students explained their designs, an excited (egg-cited?) crowd gathered at the gym to watch the eggs be dropped, first from the top of a ladder, where a few unlucky eggs met their doom, and then from the top of the bouldering wall. Each shattered egg was a reason for Renee to step up and demonstrate exactly what property of the design had allowed gravity to prevail. When three egg designs survived the fall from the top of the bouldering wall, they were put to the ultimate test: the very top of our climbing wall.

Renee’s egg drop project was an awesome display of WMS student ingenuity, teamwork, and practical application of physics that allowed students to get creative and put their own concepts into practice.

See Renee’s class move a car here.

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