Sunday, September 30, 2012

Egg Drop Contest -- STEM Project

Drop some eggs. Do some math.
Want to fire up the engagement of your students with a Hands-On STEM project? Want to do an interdisciplinary collaboration with the science teacher? Want to smash some eggs?

Name: Egg Drop Contest
Suggested Grade Level: 7-12 (Primarily Algebra 1 math skills, but project can be modified for different levels)
Math Concepts: Solving Equations, Collecting Data, Measurement & Using Science Equations
Interdisciplinary Connections: STEM, Physical Science, Engineering & Physics
Teaching Duration: 5-7 Days (can be modified)
Cost: $8 for a 21 Page PDF (1 project & essentials, 2 assignments and Answer Key) 
PDF Version: Egg Drop @ TPT

The Product: An Egg Drop Competition with an Optional Reflective Presentation of Results and Design Process

This will never work. They'll throw
egg at each other. And you have to buy
all that stuff!
This 21st Century Math Project might find its way into a Middle or High School classroom. Of course I did not invent the idea of an Egg Drop Competition, but built a set of math questions and assignments around it to make it more authentic and rigorous for a math classroom. Included alongside all the essential elements that will make your Egg Drop Contest a success, I have wrote a pair of follow-up activities that can actually be used whether or not you actually do an egg drop. These assignments hammer home the math skills taught in the lesson and serve as a stand-alone or follow-up activities.

My first time implementing the egg drop project was as a 9th Grade Algebra 1 teacher in collaboration with the Physical Science Teacher. The goal was to create a STEM project that would engage students while capping off our first quarter's worth of curriculum. In his case it was Force, Velocity, Acceleration and in my case it was Solving Equations. We thought this project was a perfect match.

You look like you're just throwing eggs
out the window! Please tell me there's a
Common Core Standard for that.
To date no students have ever thrown eggs at each other. In order to have a store stocked with supplies, I've spent between $10-20 on random stuff to use to build, but I work in schools where students can bring very little. You can just as easily have students bring stuff from home to donate to the store.

I have gotten eggs donated every year I've done it. A local grocery will happily write off an older batch to make it happen. To save the eggs for the contest, I use golf balls to test the devices. They are roughly the same shape and size.

While there are a number of Common Core Standards that are hit in this project, I have selected just a few from the Common Core High School Math 

-- Seeing Structure in Expressions
  • Interpret the structure of expressions
-- Reasoning with Equations and Inequalities
    So yeah, this will be really helpful
    when I'm throwing eggs out of windows!
    This is ridiculous!
  • Understand solving equations as a process of reasoning and explain the reasoning
  • Solve equations and inequalities in one variable
-- Interpreting Categorical and Quantitative Data
  • Summarize, represent, and interpret data of two categorical and quantitative variables
-- Making Inferences and Justifying Conclusions
  • Make inferences and justify conclusions from sample surveys, experiments and observational studies

Engineering Design Process of NC State University
While this project isn't the most authentic of tasks as Swagg Jones has pointed out, there is a fundamental backbone to this that is authentic. 

The Engineering Design Process. 

Research. Design. Build. Test. Redesign. Test. And on... I have written the project to revolve around this process and I suggest teachers to explicitly teach the process alongside the mathematics. This makes it more real 

Is there any way to involve the community?

EXTENSION: This project does lend itself to quite a spectacle. I have successfully contacted the local Fire Department and they brought out their biggest truck lift for the Grand Finale. This experience is something students will never forget, but should also gain a solid grasp on measurement and solving equations. 

I have also successfully invented local engineers to come, build and bounce ideas with the students. It allows kids to network with professionals and allows the engineers to see the sun. 

So there you have it, the first of many 21st Century Math Projects that I will share on this site. Boomdiggy.

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