Students in Deb Waddell’s sixth grade science classes at Adair County Middle School put down their pens and paper, left their desk, and trekked out into the cold for their lesson Friday. On the bleachers at the middle school football field, students looked on while Waddell dropped every students’ creation from the very top. The goal was for students to design and create a transportation system that would safely protect an egg from cracking or breaking upon impact with the ground, and an impressive number – more than 63-percent – were successful in their designs.
The project was part of a section on Newton’s three laws of motion. Only three items could be used to build the transporter, and it had to meet several size and weight requirements. “They started out by developing a prototype, drawing and labeling it in their lab journal, just like an engineer would,” Waddell explains. “They used the scientific method to develop a question and hypothesis about what they thought would happen.”
As part of the exercise, students were encouraged to think like a vehicle safety engineer and consider how cars are designed and built for people to survive auto accidents. They also had to look at their results for clues on how to make improvements. “In the end, they had to tell how this relates to Newton’s laws and write about how they could make their designs better, even if they survived the launch,” Waddell says.
The egg-drop project is a perennial favorite among students. “It’s the thing they look forward to the most in my science classes,” Waddell says. “They’re thrilled to do this.”
“I loved it because it wasn’t pencil-and-paper work,” says sixth grader Ashton Flatt. “It was a good experience.”
By Wes Feese
Media Relations, Adair County Schools