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Egg Drop Experiment – #STEM Challenge for Kids

 Egg drop experiment #stem challenge for kids

For our final co-op class, the kids were all challenged to create a device that would keep a raw egg safe from a second story window drop. They have had a blast with their prior STEM challenges this semester, and this egg drop experiment was no different. Seeing the various creative ideas each came up with to protect their eggs – and the groans and cheers that resulted was equally as fun as the egg drop itself! 

The eggs were supplied when the kids arrived, but during the week prior there were a few guidelines to follow in creating a protective barrier for the eggs: the completed device could be no longer/taller/wider than 12 inches and they needed to use items they found around the house. This meant that if a parachute was added, it was also part of the 12 inch guideline, so it needed to fit within that parameter. And yes, I brought a ruler. A few kids had guessed beforehand and ended up making last minute modifications to have it fit. 

Egg Drop Experiment Ideas

Ideas from the kids varied and it was much fun to see if they worked and hear their theories as to why they thought it would. Some had tested their devices before coming (and had success), but many waited to see how it would work. 

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Our first egg drop used an old plastic jar lined with cotton balls galore. The jar was surrounded by skewers and adequately taped. The intent was to drop it and have the skewers cushion the drop so the jar wouldn’t hit the ground. 

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While the container flipped during it’s drop, the impact wasn’t enough to break the egg and the cotton balls did their job cushioning the blow. The only thing that did break the egg was trying to get it out of the jar. A success! 

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A recycled dishwasher tablet container filled with popcorn was the second entry. The overall container was very lightweight. 

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Another egg survival! 

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A ziploc bag filled with marshmallows and the egg surrounded by a gallon sized ziploc bag with more marshmallows was another entry. Predictions were looking good for this submission. 

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Unfortunately, the density of the marshmallows was enough to crush the egg and it made a fairly runny mess. 

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The smallest entry in the egg drop was a little box cushioned with cotton batting, a single egg carton styrofoam piece, all topped with rubber bands, the lid, and secured shut with a few rubber bands. 

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Even though it was so small, it worked beautifully! 

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A single roll of toilet paper with the cardboard tube removed and wrapped in duct tape was a cozy home for another egg. 

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The squishably soft goodness of whatever brand used was enough to cushion the drop – another survivor! 

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Bubble wrap around a small box was a last minute pull-together from one of the boys who may have forgotten to work on his assignment until the last minute. A parachute was also part of the plan, but was nixed due to size limitations. 

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Fortunately his last minute effort paid off and his entry made it! 

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This next one was fairly simple: tissue paper surrounding an egg with extra cushioning inside a plastic baggie then placed in a paper bag with more tissue paper. It was tested several times at home with success. 

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Unfortunately, the padding was not done the same as it had been prior, and the egg did not survive the official drop.

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Someone’s dad might be a little upset this summer when he realizes a few car sponges are missing from the garage. Originally this creation had a parachute added, but it needed to be removed because of size requirements.  The sponges were glued together and a small space was hollowed out in the middle to house the egg. 

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This one was a definite success, even after multiple bounces when it landed – and HIGH bounces at that!

 

Overall, this was such a FUN time with the kids and a great way to end our semester class together. Have you ever done an egg drop with your co-op class or kids at home? If not – have some fun and see who can come up the most creative idea! 

 

Additional STEM Challenges

 

 

Jellybean and Toothpick Structure STEM Challenge

Jellybean and toothpick STEM challenge - building a structure that supports weight

For one of our most recent STEM classes at co-op we took advantage of Dollar Tree jellybeans and an overabundance of toothpicks. The kids have had so much fun with our hands-on challenges and learning about the best ways to build structures that are weight bearing and can stand a little pressure.

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Initially we divided up into four teams of 2-3 students each but gave the kids the option of combining with one other team to build their jellybean and toothpick structure. The kids decided that was definitely the better option and quickly moved together. They also realized it provided them with more jellybeans for eating, should they not used two entire bags for their structure (smart kids).

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One of the BEST things I heard came immediately after the kids combined (and while I eavesdropped on their strategy talk). Both teams were discussing the best way to build a structure that would support the most weight and still have a good height. From each team, the words “a triangle allows the strongest support” was heard. (Yes, they are listening!!)

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KEVA Planks were used as a sort of ‘holding pen’ for one of the teams – they didn’t want to risk floor contamination of jellybeans that may possibly be edible later. The other team obviously had no regard for where their beans ended up.

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Both teams worked with a triangular setup for their structures, although one took a more systematic approach, setting up an assembly line of sorts. Team members started the process of putting a toothpick into a jellybean and creating piles, while others created pre-made triangles for another team member to work into their structure.

 

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Overall both teams had a blast with this challenge.  One structure was definitely more organized and that may be the team that wasn’t distracted by eating jellybeans along the way. 

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While Team 1’s structure was taller overall, it came to a definite peak and would not support as much weight when added (we stacked file folders on each structure to see how many it would hold). Team 1 eventually lost their triangular structure as their building continued( see the note on jellybean consumption), lost focus, and that ended up being their downfall.

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Team 2 had a much wider and elaborate base design (neater overall) thanks to their assembly line process. While their structure didn’t reach quite as much height as Team 1’s design, it supported more than twice the weight since it was able to more evenly distribute the weight when stacked.

(And jellybeans were consumed by all).

Such a fun and sticky challenge. Incidentally, picking up a box of 500 toothpicks that are spilled can be pointy and painful.

Additional STEM Challenges

Bouncing Egg Science Experiment – Dissolving Calcium Carbonate with Acid

bouncing egg science experiment from Homeschool Creations

Before you go and think I’m crazy nuts, our bouncing egg science experiment involved a safe acid (grins). Zachary has loved all the hands-on projects to go along with his Christian Kids Explore Chemistry this year, and this one to see how acid interacts with calcium carbonate was no different.

That said – it was super easy to pull together and one that every family should do (did I mention it was easy?). Aside from learning about chemical reactions, what’s not to love about an egg that can bounce?!

Bouncing Egg Science Experiment

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The main purpose of this experiment was to test the reaction of a weak acid (white vinegar) with calcium carbonate (CaCO3 – an eggshell). If you’d like to try this at home, you only need a few items:

 

Here’s the quick science explanation:

An egg shell is made up of calcium carbonate, so when the egg is soaked in vinegar (about 4% acetic acid) a chemical reaction begins. Carbon dioxide is released (the bubbles you see on the shell) as the vinegar begins to dissolve the shell. The membrane of the egg will remain (the rubbery part of the egg).

 

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The egg was supposed to soak for 24 hours and then observations were to be tracked. Ours ended up soaking a bit longer (as in four days) because it stayed in the schoolroom over the weekend and we completely forgot out it. It was a lovely stink come Monday morning. (grins)

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The vinegar was carefully drained from the egg and GENTLY rinsed off under clean water. (May I stress gently again?)

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We pulled out another raw egg to compare and contrast to our experiment. The egg that had been soaked felt completely rubbery and could be gently squeezed (again with the gentle). The entire shell had dissolved thanks to the chemical reaction with the vinegar.

Size-wise there was a significant difference as well. When the egg soaked in the vinegar,  some of the vinegar and water in the vinegar moved through the membranes of the egg and into the egg. Egg membranes are semi-permeable so water can move through them (an example of osmosis).

 

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Trying to find the yolk now the shell was missing, we grabbed a flashlight as well to see how translucent the egg was. 

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The fun part came in the bouncing of the egg. To keep the counters clean, we pulled out a tray and tried dropping it from different heights to see if it would break.  You can see a short (and slightly blurry – sorry!) video here or below.

 

Once we were done bouncing and playing with the egg, we popped it with a fork to feel the membrane of the egg. (And yes, we all thoroughly washed our hands when we were done!).

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This is one of those experiments we would like to do again, but this time with several eggs in different jars and then try a few variables when we are done soaking them all in vinegar: moving one to plain water, one to cornstarch, and letting one sit out on the tray to see what happens to them all.

There’s so much more we could do, but this was a fun start to our egg experiments.

More Science Fun

If you have some time and need a few ideas, we worked on both of these projects this year and had a blast with them (especially the cookie skillet!).

Atomic Cookie Skillet Models – learn more about the Periodic Table and how what atoms consist of with this fun (and edible) project!

Building Atom Models – build simple atoms together and make chemistry hands-on for your kids with this easy activity.

Umbrella Challenge – STEM Activity for Kids

Umbrella STEM Challenge - create a shelter to keep a tissue dry

This past week in our co-op class we worked on another ‘instant challenge’ together, breaking up into four teams to create a structure that would keep a tissue dry. Out of all of the projects we have worked on so far, this one seemed to click with the kids.

Each week we have divided into groups, raced to finish a project using the few items provided, and at times there has been grumbling of “they copied our idea” or frustration when what seemed like a great plan literally crumbled to pieces. While not everyone was successful in their building endeavor, the umbrella project brought everyone together and helped the kids see the importance of teamwork.

The Umbrella Challenge

We brought a large Rubbermaid bin into class, 2 quarts of water, a colander, a tissue, and a container (to keep the tissue from touching the bottom of the bin).

Challenge: Create a structure that would keep the tissue dry when water was poured (like rain) over it with a set amount of materials.

Materials: 2 pieces of paper, 3 rubber bands, 4 pipe cleaners, 3 playing cards, 2 pencils, 2 paper cups, 4 pieces of tape, 5 cotton balls, and 3 rubber bands.

Also needed: water, colander, tissues, and a large plastic tub.

Team Results

The kids were broken up into four teams and given a short amount of time to chat with their teammates and decide on a design idea. As soon as they had an idea they set to work on their designs. The structures could be tested at any time by the students, but had to keep the tissue dry when the teachers tested it.

Team #1

Umbrella Challenge

One of the creative things this team did was use the cotton balls as the corner bases, attaching them to the pipe cleaners. While their structure was stationary on the carpet, when placed in the tub, it slipped around, so they added them to give stability, knowing when the water fell in the tub it would be soaked up into the cotton balls and give it a little more weight.

They also poked the pencils through the corners of the paper to give it a good arch and place the playing cards on the top so the paper wouldn’t soak through as quickly.

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We poured the water over top and their design was successful – the tissue stayed dry. Out of all of the supplies, they didn’t use the cups or rubber bands, but did use everything else.

Team #2

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This team didn’t use all of their supplies (rubber bands), but created a narrower shelter, using the pencils as the base and paper cups to provide a ‘run-off’ area for the water. Overall, they didn’t have a solid structure and needed to use the tub to support the ends of their shelter (while it was supposed to be free-standing).

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When the water was poured over, the structure was too narrow, so the tissue did absorb some water. While in theory it did seem good, the overall design didn’t quite work.

Team #3

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This team earned some points for creativity and strength. Their legs were very stable (good idea rolling the paper to create a stronger leg that wouldn’t get floppy when wet as quickly). They used almost all of their materials (they chose not to use the cups).

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Although they had a great base to start with, their structure wasn’t wide enough to cover the tissue when the water was poured over it and ended up soaking wet.

Team #4

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While team 4 didn’t quite use all of their material creatively (ahem – the rubber bands were dropped on the top so they could say they has included them), they did have a great base for their umbrella using two pencils as stability to the pipe cleaners looped through the corners to lift it up above the tissue. Their top was also thick so the water would stay off the tissue (using cards and two sheets of paper with the paper cups cut up inside to provide extra protection). Not a beautiful structure, but it stayed together!

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When the water was poured over their structure, the tissue stayed dry!

The Importance of Teamwork

While the teams were busy working, there were a few complaints of ‘they are copying us’ (even though the other team wasn’t looking) and frustration when what seemed like a good idea, turned out to be a flop and plans had to be re-worked (and still flopped).

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Although I had seen two of the teams beginning structures, I pulled out my own set of supplies and decided to put something together quickly. Ironically, my structure was very similar to one of the other teams (team 4) that I hadn’t seen until we all came together as a group.

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My structure used the paper as the ‘umbrella’ with the three cards together underneath and held up the the pipe cleaners. The rubber bands were used to keep the pencils closer together so the paper would arch and not spread out too far when it became wet. Not too shabby for about 4 minutes of quickly building.)

As a class we had a great talk about how there are times when we may be working on an idea or concept, have the same supplies or focus, and each of us may have some similar plans, but may tweak it in a different way. It isn’t copying, but sometimes just happens. The process of discovering what does and doesn’t work often leads us to a better way of creating something.

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Coming together as a group, we took the best ideas from each team and built a structure using those designs and had an even better structure. The cups were cut in half and we added slits to create addition ‘run-off’ areas and also provide a way to keep the paper in a tent style. The three playing cards were bent in half over the paper to create a more waterproof peak.

Note: We didn’t have enough time to fully build it, but would have added the pencil and pipe cleaner base from Team 4 to keep the paper up and out of the water.

While individual teams had good ideas, together, as a whole, the best one was created. It was really a great ‘learning’ moment and helped diffuse some of the frustration between the kids – team building at its best.

A Few Other STEM Activities You May Enjoy

Assignment Sheet for Students – Free Printables

assignment sheet for students - a free editable printable from Homeschool Creations to track daily work and goals_edited-1

One thing that we have been focusing on with our middle school boy is a little more independence in his school work. One big help for him has been a new assignment sheet for him (or me) to record the assignments for each subject and day of the week.

Translated, that means he needs a hands-on look at what he is expected to accomplish that week and a handy way to check off his assignments as he progresses without mom constantly hovering over him to make sure everything is done. In short, taking responsibility for his schoolwork and owning up when it isn’t done. (cough) But I’m sure that is only my child, right?

While I realize that a piece of paper doesn’t actually GET the schoolwork done, this has been a good help because he can see page numbers down to how many chapters of a book he is expected to read. At the end of each day (or week depending on his focus), we review what was accomplished and make adjustments as needed for the following days.

And if you are looking for some colorful (and erasable pens) – grab a pack of these (aff link). They are my FAVORITE and well loved in our house!

assignment sheet for students from Homeschool Creations

Each sheet has room to track 11 subjects for five days as well as a space for recording personal goals for the week. Along the top of each sheet there is space to record the week’s date as well.

There are also two clip art styles to choose from – one using rainbow washi tape or a fun rainbow sneaker design. Download one or both, editable or non-editable – your choice!

These print off four to a page if you choose to print double sided (two half-sized on each side). For those of you that would like to save a little time, there is also an editable version for the subject area. When the file is opened, simply type the subject area names in the blue squares and then print.

Fill them out with your new favorite pens (aff link) – and you are ready to go!

 

Additional Planning Resources for Students

If you’d prefer a larger assignment sheet to use with your children, you can download these Daily Assignment Sheets.

This student planner is one we’ve been using with our older two girls and absolutely LOVE it. Find out more here.

Download the Assignment Sheet for Students

Ready to download and use? Click the file name below and it will open the pdf file for you.

Clip art credit: Rainbow Sneakers from DigitalFunFactory and Rainbow Digital Washi from ClickPaperCo.

Homeschool Science Curriculum Sale – Save 15%

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One of the programs that we’ve been using this year with our fifth grader, Zachary, is Christian Kids Explore Chemistry from Bright Ideas Press (aff link). He has been loving the hands-on projects that tie in with the program and learning so much about chemistry as we work through our text.

We work through one chapter a week: reading, review, and a hands-on project and it is just the right balance of independent work and learning. Our atomic cookie skillet model and atom models were both a part of our hands-on learning.

Save 15% on Christian Kids Explore series

Right now you can save 15% on the Christian Kids Explore books (aff link) – from Biology, Physics, Earth & Space, and Chemistry and beyond. No code needed as the prices all currently reflect the sale prices.

Both Biology and Earth & Space were written for students in grades 3-6, but the simplicity of the activities and clearness of teaching makes them easily adaptable for younger students as well. Every activity was designed using inexpensive and easily accessible resources. The book is laid out so the reading, worksheets, coloring pages, vocabulary, activity instructions and more all come in one book. This makes for a format that also works very well with co-ops.

The Chemistry, Physics, and Creation Science books were written for grades 4-8. These books can be adapted to fit third grade students, but because they are advanced enough to set a foundation for high school studies, you may wish to start with the Biology or Earth & Space editions with any student younger than fourth grade.

Learn more about Christian Kids Explore Science HERE.