Having an egg drop contest is a classic engineering project for kids. I have seen this in many science fair projects over the years and it seems to be something the kids can really get into. The excitement! The suspense! The possibility of making a big mess!
The challenge is to create an invention which will hold an egg and, when dropped, will prevent the egg from breaking. There are many variations on this challenge. The most important part is to have clear rules about the design and to communicate those rules to the students before they start.
Some things you’ll want to consider when creating the challenge:
Teams: Will this be a cooperative project or an individual project? How many students will work together. I think teams of about three work well for this challenge.
Materials: What materials are allowed? How much? Be very specific. For example, your challenge might allow a dozen drinking straws, a dozen craft sticks, 4 pieces of loose-leaf paper, 1 yard of string, and one yard of masking tape. Considering making “kits” of materials ahead of time and allowing them only to use what is in the kit. Don’t forget the eggs!
Design Constraints: Is there a limit on the size? The easiest way to have a size constraint is to have a box the contraption must fit into. That makes testing it before the contest simple. Must some portion of the egg still be visible? If so, be specific (a 1cm by 1cm patch for example). If there is something you want them to do or not do, you must specify it or anything goes!
Height: What height will the projects be dropped from? Table height? Window? Top of a building? Try it yourself with the allowed materials and design constraints to see if it is even possible.This article is part of the Eggs-citing Science Investigations series. See the list below for links to the other articles in this series.