Sunday, February 18, 2007

Egg Drop Contest at the Virginia Air and Space Center

Eggs drop. Contraptions smashed. Yolks splattered. And at the end of the day there was a small pile of eggs that survived the fall. Amazing!

The concept of an egg drop is simple. Create a contraption that will stop an egg from cracking when dropped from a balcony onto a target. The lightest contraption that hits closest to the target and protects the egg wins. Yesterday we all participated in an egg drop at the Virginia Air and Space Center in Hampton. Benny won his category -- it was very exciting! And Dan and I even got in on the action.

It started over a month ago, when Benny's first contraption idea was to wrap the egg in a bunch of layers of scotch tape. I was determined to stay out of his creative/scientific process, so I quietly let him work away on his tape egg, then we hurled it off our second floor porch, and it smashed on the sidewalk. From these drippy, yolky, messy beginnings came the journey that would lead him to a successful drop on the day of the contest. I'm happy to say I resisted the urge to make his project for him. It was a strong urge, but I let him struggle on, through five designs that failed miserably, to the one that worked. We provided the materials, asked that he write down his plan for each design and also his results, and let him do the rest.

Here's one of his design plans:

Here's one of his test runs:

Here are a couple of videos that map the process a bit:

Finally a successful design. And egg drop day arrived. When we got to VASC we realized there were bazillions of homeschoolers there. This was awesome. We watched the parachute category, and as each kid was announced as a homeschooler, Benny cheered rambunctiously. When a kid from an elementary school was introduced, Benny would shake his head and say something sorrowful, like, "Oh, brace yourselves. Another schooled child." At first I thought I should correct this behavior... but then I thought, no. Kids in school are encouraged to have "school spirit" so why shouldn't homeschoolers have "unschool spirit"? As long as he wasn't being unkind or obnoxious, I decided to let him root for his homeschool team. Anyway, he has lots of friends who go to school and he doesn't recoil from them as if they're lepers or anything. As long as I don't see him crossing the street to avoid a kid from school, I think he'll be alright.

As it turned out, Benny won the two-egg category. His was the only contraption that kept both his eggs safe. Here's a video of the drop itself, and the award ceremony:

Here are a few pictures from the event:

Here's Benny (holding my egg-dropping contraption) with another child and her mother. They called their contraption Chicken Little and had thematic outfits -- we love it!

Here's Benny with Dr. Byles from VASC, and Tom Finley, one of the adult winners. Benny has two medals because he also won for the most creative design in his category.

The egg drop contest was a lot of fun. I really appreciate the people who set it up, made it happen, and cleaned up all those smashed eggs.

I have many more pictures of the event in my Flickr set from the egg drop. I highly encourage anyone with a gadget-minded child to seek out an egg drop and get to dropping. It was an excellent learning experience for Benny, and a good time for the whole family.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for taking videos and sharing this "Egg Drop Contest" on your site! It is inspiring!
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