Monday, January 28, 2013

The fantastic parachuting egg

At our last SWE meeting (Society of Women Engineers), we tested our activity for Expanding Your Horizons, an event for middle school girls to encourage them to go into the STEM fields. Our activity is the traditional egg drop, but with a bit of a twist. To make it more like engineering, we are giving each team a budget and a list of materials, and the team that uses the least amount of "money" but has an egg that survives a minimum 8-foot drop wins. When we tested this at our meeting, we had many designs where people wrapped the egg in as much stuff as possible, but my friend Jacob and I took a different approach.

At first, I was thinking about making a glider or something for the egg to soar down in, but Jacob suggested we make a parachute. With 2-feet of plastic cling wrap, a foot of tape, two popsicle sticks, and five tissues, we came up with this design: 

We used the popsicle sticks to keep the cling wrap parachute open, and made a cradle out of the five tissues to nest the egg and soften the blow when it landed. We tested from the 8-foot drop, and much to everyone's surprise, it worked! 

(Ignore my yelling at the end. I was very excited.) 
But we had to take it a step forward. We then went and gathered some of our professors and tested it from the third floor stairwell onto a concrete floor.

It somewhat worked. We were surprised that it made it all the way down, but about a foot up from the floor, the egg hit the wall. I think had it not hit the wall, it may have stayed in tact; the egg cracked but it did not catastrophically break!

This was actually the first egg drop competition I ever did. It was a lot of fun! And for those of you who live in the North Florida area and want to register your daughter or refer a friend to Expanding Your Horizons, you can! The website with all the info and registration is here: Expanding Your Horizons North Florida.

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