In front of nearly 200 sixth-graders, Ridgeland firefighters Yancey Jayroe (left) and David Zimmerman climbed to the top of the ladder to drop Egg Transport Vehicles, testing to see if the eggs survived the fall.
In front of nearly 200 sixth-graders, Ridgeland firefighters Yancey Jayroe (left) and David Zimmerman climbed to the top of the ladder to drop Egg Transport Vehicles, testing to see if the eggs survived the fall.
For the second straight year, the sixth-grade science classes at Ridgeland’s Olde Towne Middle School (OTMS) conducted a hands-on engineering design project called the Egg Drop Challenge as a culmination of a unit on physics and engineering. To illustrate Newton’s laws of motion, science teachers Alison Callahan and MaKesha Page divided their classes into teams of two to three students and instructed each team to design an Egg Transport Vehicle (ETV) to carry and protect a large raw egg while being dropped without the egg breaking or cracking.  

To make the project more challenging this year, Callahan and Page gave the teams a limited set of supplies to use to build their ETVs. The students were tasked with trying to make their designs as lightweight as possible. To guide their strategic thinking, students were taught about crumple zones, air resistance and air bags. 

“We really wanted our students to think outside the box,” said Page. “With limited supplies, they had to be creative to design a successful ETV.”  

The designs were initially dropped in the classroom from a height of 12 feet and scored based on whether the egg survived the fall, as well as criteria such as weight and creative design. The ETVs with “surviving” eggs that met the mass requirement advanced to the true test – the firetruck challenge. Ridgeland firefighters David Zimmerman, Yancey Jayroe and Ryan Monroe extended the ladder to 30 feet and dropped the students’ ETVs. Of the 30 designs released, 13 eggs survived.  

The Egg Drop Challenge tests students’ critical-thinking and problem-solving skills in a competitive way while also teaching them STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) lessons they can apply in the real world.

“Several of the surviving designs were created by students who would not necessarily be considered ‘top’ science students,” said Callahan. “I hope this event will spark an interest in students who had not previously considered a science-related career.”