While some teachers may have to plan carefully to incorporate hands-on projects into their classrooms, technology instructor Chaise Swisher naturally does so nearly every day.
He recently completed the egg drop challenge with his Technology and Engineering II class. Students were given a couple of days to design a portfolio, build, and test the design in order to drop a raw egg from differing heights inside of a container which would protect it from breakage.
Students were graded based on their portfolio rubric and meeting the specifications of the design challenge. One of the most difficult requirements is creating a package that is no more than 100 grams while still effectively protecting the egg.
Students also are allowed to incorporate a “mystery” item of their choice. There have been many different designs for this project, but normally the mystery item plays a large role in whether or not it is successful. Students have tried using memory foam, large trash bags, and styrofoam with varying degrees of success.
Swisher used to have his class drop the eggs from bleachers at the football field, but now they have three drop levels with different heights and landing pads which also test the design’s durability. The first drop is from a height of around 15 feet indoors onto a tile floor. The second drop is from around 15 feet outdoors landing on concrete. The third drop is 30 feet out of a third story window onto a brick patio. Outdoor drops are always interesting because outside elements such as temperature and wind or rain also could challenge the design.
Although students have a great deal of fun with the project, Swisher said it can be harder to teach than expected. He has to keep adequate materials stocked while making sure students are on task and meeting requirements. Students have to learn “how to stay within the criteria and constraints in a design. Also, they learn problem solving, thinking outside the box, design, and using the engineering design portfolio to come up with a design,” explained Swisher.
Katie Beard is a member of the Elkin High School Journalism Club.