INDEPENDENCE — What happens when you get together a couple dozen eggs, a few firefighters and their ladder, and a handful of kids from a physics class?
A science experiment, of course.
This year’s annual egg drop, held on April 12 in the Central High School main parking lot, had each student from Greg Craven’s physics class create a contraption that would hold a raw egg in such a way that the egg would stay intact after a 60-foot drop from the top of a firefighter’s ladder.
Six out of the 22 eggs survived.
“It’s actually better than average,” Craven said, laughing.
This experiment went in tandem with class material the students were learning.
“I love seeing the kids get engaged in problem solving and needing to use what they learned in the classroom in order to solve a problem that they have an emotional stake in,” Craven said, “because I think that that makes the learning much more meaningful and stick better.”
Members from the Polk County Fire District No. 1 were there with one of their fire trucks to help drop the eggs. Three volunteer members were at the top of the ladder, pulling up the egg-landing contraptions via a bucket attached to a rope and carabiners, and then dropping each contraption onto the spread-out tarp below.
“It’s fun for us (to do),” said Deputy Chief Neal Olson. “It’s a good training exercise, we don’t get out in the truck a lot, but it’s good for us to come down, and it’s good PR. And it’s fun. It gives our guys incentives to think about what would happen if they fell out of the ladder,” he said, laughing.
It was clear throughout the experiment that students were having fun. With each egg that dropped from the ladder (and most of the contraptions breaking apart in one form or another), students hollered and laughed, running over to inspect the damage.
Senior Diana Nye said this experiment was the highlight of her day.
“We did the egg drop project because (Mr. Craven) challenged us to think about Newton’s laws and how to implement them to help create something that would save something as fragile as an egg,” Nye said. “We were learning things like force equals mass times acceleration, so the heavier ones are going to go a lot faster and have a lot more impact on the egg. It was just to be able to see what we were learning, and to have more fun with it.”
Initially, her egg survived, but when it was dropped with only the glue around it as protection, the egg cracked, leaking out yellow yolk.
Thankfully, Craven said he doesn’t grade students on whether the egg survives or not.
“I set up the grading scheme so that they don’t have to have the eggs survive in order to get a decent grade, because I don’t want to disadvantage students who don’t have building skills, who have never built anything before,” Craven said. “So the grading scheme is set up so that whether the eggs survives or not, they get a bonus point, and all the glory. They get the grade for the work they do and designing it, and doing the report on it afterward explaining their design ideas.”
The student-made contraptions were highly creative. Senior David Glade got the idea for his from a similar project he did in middle school. Sadly, his egg did not survive.
“I just figured that it might work … like it did in eighth grade, but it didn’t,” he said, laughing. “I put cotton balls in a tennis ball container, and then I put the egg at the top, hoping that it would land straight down so that it could compress like it was supposed to, but it landed on its side.”
Did he have fun?
“I did; it was awesome,” Glade said.