Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Egg Drop Experiment

This week in physics lab for my high school students we finished up the egg drop experiment.  This is a lab experiment that many students complete at sometime in their middle school or high school education.  The basic idea is to build a "ship" out of a pre-selected materials that will house an egg.  The ship is dropped from increasing heights until the egg breaks.  The goal is to build a ship that protects the egg such that it doesn't break.  There are many variations of the egg drop experiment, but in my high school classes, students are allowed the following materials.

10 tongue depressors (or extra wide popsicle sticks)
10 popsicle sticks
10 paper clips
5 soda straws
5 rubber bands
3 pipe cleaners
2 feet of yarn
10 cotton balls
1 plastic sandwich bag (size small)
1 bottle of glue

Students do not have to use all of these materials, but they can't use anything not on the list.  Below are a few pictures of "ships" that student's build for this week's drop.

Eggs were placed in the "ships" and we went to a nearby parking garage.  We dropped from 2 feet, 6 feet, the 2nd floor, the 3rd floor, and the 4th floor, all onto grass.  Out of 12 groups, 3 survived the 4th floor drop.  These three then dropped their "ships" from the 4th floor onto rocks.  The parking garage is only 4 stories high.  Two of the groups survived the rock drop.  The next step was to drop the "ships" upside down.  Neither of the remaining groups' eggs survived, although in previous years I've had students build ships that survived the rock drop.  

I'll point out that this is an activity that you can do with kids of any age.  The younger the child, the more liberal you must be with the supplies.  I've done this before with groups of 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders.  We use the same supplies, but I give them more popsicle sticks and cotton balls to use.  Even younger kids can do this if they have sufficient parental help.  I haven't done this with my daughter yet, but it's on my list of sciency things to do.


  1. Show a pic of the winners please.

  2. Great idea John. I'll dig through my pictures and notes and publish a new post next week sometime with the winner.

  3. this helping me wih my project

  4. we don't have twelve sticks

  5. Uh....okay. That's good news because you only need 10 of each type. :-)

  6. Shaine D. HarringtonNovember 30, 2014 at 9:59 PM

    Please tell me how to make the small box...

  7. Shaine...if I told you, all critical thinking would disappear. Try several designs yourself to see what works best.

  8. Replies
    1. Yes...that's a problem. Not much I can do for you.

  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  10. My egg container worked the first time and not the second time. Why?

    1. Well, without knowing any specifics I can't answer that question. I could depend on how the craft landed. If it landed slightly differently this will alter the forces acting on the egg and possibly causing the break.