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Bellingham Bulletin

Egg-Drop Challenge a Smashing Success

Nov 29, 2018 06:00AM ● By Pamela Johnson

Senior Youth Services Librarian Steve Fowler drops an egg from the top of a 5-foot stepladder.

story & photo by Christine Doyle, Contributing Writer

Have you ever dropped an egg and stood there, horrified, as it cracked and spread all over the floor you’d just cleaned? On the afternoon of November 1st, Bellingham Library hosted an egg-drop challenge, in which participants could work on their own, with siblings or with parents to create designs to protect their eggs from withstanding drops from 5 feet or even higher.

Steve Fowler, the Senior Youth Services Librarian, had invited families to be a part of this fun STEM-based program to test their design skills.

Stations for supplies and work areas had been set up around the community room, and the testing station—a stepladder—was positioned in the center with a green covering under it to protect the rug from a design gone wrong. The supplies to be used were cups, tape, scissors, glue, cupcake wrappers, straws, pipe cleaners, pom-poms, feathers, felt and tubes from toilet paper and paper towels. An excellent piece of wisdom was also provided: “Tape is your friend,” Fowler told the participants.

Soon they were off and running and gathering their chosen supplies.  Some went quickly to work while others took a bit more time in planning what they thought would be the best way to protect the egg.  The materials used by participants varied as they created their inventions. Some designs used a bag full of pom-poms taped tightly and securely. Other participants tried putting the eggs into two cups taped together where they joined, but one of the moms suggested that perhaps more material could be used to better protect the fragile egg. 

Another child took his time coming up with an interesting concept using a small amount of straws, pipe cleaners and tape. His sister used two cups with felt inside and out and a lot of tape. The father of the siblings used straws, a toilet paper tube and tape and then added pom-poms and more tape to better pad the egg.

Fowler threw out an additional challenge to come up with something using only straws and tape. One of the boys took it a step further by making two more models, one which he was hoping would not survive the drop since he was confident his other three would protect the eggs.
  
After a significant amount of time was given, participants were told it was time to test their skills.  Fowler climbed the 5-foot ladder and asked the kids if their design was to be held a certain way and if he could just drop it, toss it up in the air or throw it down to smash it. This gave the kids an understanding that, although their design could protect the eggs, other conditions could affect whether the egg smashed or not. Many of the creations survived the first test, and the participants went back into the line to have Fowler use a different method of dropping to see if the design would survive. Most did, but there were some that were greeted by the ooey gooey dripping coming from their invention.

Fowler then sent the group back to the drawing board for round two of the challenge, wherein the designs would be tested by a drop from a 7-foot ladder! More padding could be added to the models that had survived the previous rigorous testing or participants could create a new stronger model that could (hopefully) go toe-to-toe with the taller drop. One child created something simply using a paper-towel tube, feathers and tape, with his mom thinking the child was happily hoping to see a smashed egg.

The inventions were then put to the test. Some of the contraptions survived the drop, one of which was the one using mostly feathers, much to the surprise of the inventor. Other models did not survive, demonstrating that the increase in height had an effect on what had previously been considered a hardy design.  Participants with the models that survived the first 7-foot drop then had Fowler try again holding the design a different way or throwing it down.

To their delight, the few kids with the models that had lasted through the testing were rewarded with the opportunity to come up with creative ways to find out what it took to break their surviving eggs.
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