Problem solving is a fundamental skill for engineers. To help students learn this basic skill, Amy Hamann, a STEM teacher at Barker Middle School in Michigan, whipped up the “Egg Crash Challenge,” according to the local news outlet WIMS Radio.
The challenge is fun and simple. Students must design and construct a device that will prevent a raw egg from cracking after falling several feet. Students could use only a few materials to achieve this goal: 3 file folders, 4 bendy straws, 30cm of masking tape, 60cm of string, 3 sheets of paper, 2 rubber bands, and a plastic bag. While the challenge may seem simple, it actually teaches students a great deal about the engineering process, according to Ms. Hamann.
“The ‘Egg Crash’ introduces students not only to the engineering design process, but also the technology that is created and used in career fields such as Vehicle Crash Test Engineer, Engineering Test Technicians, Crash Safety Test Engineer, Crash Prep Quality Coordinator, and Aerospace Engineer to name just a few,” she told WIMS Radio. “It introduces students to using engineering within the real world and future careers. They also learn 21st-century skills – critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication. These skills are used in ANY career field and are also important life skills.”
Organized at Baker Middle School, the challenge consisted of students from neighboring schools as well as local businesses. At least 26 teams participated. To test the designs, teams had help from the local fire department. Firefighters placed eggs in the student-designed devices and dropped them from 50, 75, and 100 feet — the final round — from a ladder in the school parking lot. By the end of the challenge, six teams took home first-place prizes.
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