The egg drop is a classic experiment performed in math and science courses at all levels. In this competition students build a protective harness that will keep an egg from cracking during a fall. Different teachers alter the allowed materials and conditions of the drop to make the project easier or more difficult. For example, some egg drops require competitors to work in pairs or to perform with an untested model. Regardless of your grade-level and experience, follow the scientific procedure to document your progress – even if you do not come up with the best design, you will know what not to do next time.
Assemble Toothpick Rectangles
For this project, you'll need parchment paper, two to three boxes of toothpicks, hot glue, a metal spoon and last, but not least, an egg. Start the project by spreading a sheet of parchment paper over the work area for protection. Line up 20 toothpicks side-by-side to form a rectangle. Spear a thick layer of hot glue over the entire surface of the rectangle using the metal spoon. Wait for the glue to dry. Flip the rectangle over and repeat on the other side. Create four additional rectangles in the same fashion.
Form a Box
Glue the sides of two panels together so that they form an L. Do this for all panels. Next, glue the L-shaped pieces together to form a box. Glue the fifth rectangle to the bottom of the box to form a base. When you are finished, you should have a toothpick box with an open end on the top.
Add a Lid
Place the egg inside of the box. Glue 10 toothpicks across the top of the box to form a lid; leave a space between each toothpick so that the egg can be seen.
A Bigger Configuration
Lay four toothpicks on the table tip-to-tip so that they form a square, gluing the tips together. Then coat the surface of the toothpicks with glue; after finishing, repeat to create 67 more squares. Glue six of the squares together to form a cube like the one holding the egg. Make two additional cubes with only five square pieces so that one side of each cube does not have a square. Line up the cubes so that the five-sided cubes are on either side of the six-sided cube with their open sides touching the six-sided cube. Glue the cubes together to form a row of three cubes. Line up two rows of cubes so that they are parallel. Span the distance between the cubes with four toothpick squares, one at each intersection to form a three-dimensional, 3-by-3 grid. Repeat this to form a second grid.
Let the Toothpicks Absorb the Fall
Move on to the egg box. Glue it to the center of one grid. Place the other grid on top so that the egg box is directly below the center grid. The completed shape will be a 3-by-3 square cube. Fill in the spaces within the 3-by-3 cube with the remaining square pieces. Add more cubes around this central block to reinforce the structure and absorb the impact of the fall.
About the Author
Sylvia Cini has written informative articles for parents and educators since 2009. Her articles appear on various websites. Cini has worked as a mentor, grief counselor, tutor, recreational leader and school volunteer coordinator. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Clark University of Worcester, Massachusetts.