Egg drop: More than it’s cracked up to be; 63 percent of eggs survive 40-foot drop
Milaca fifth grade teacher Randy Zimmer stood on top of the press box at the Milaca High School football field and launched toward the ground a vessel containing a raw egg.
The vessel, as planned, hit the ground with a tremendous thud as more than 100 fifth graders let out an explosion of laughter.
For 37 years Zimmer has hosted the annual Milaca Elementary School egg drop, where students launch an egg through the air and have it hit the ground without breaking.
And for 37 years, Zimmer has purposely had his egg break as a means to entertain his students.
In 2017, the mission was simple: When man first started going into space, scientists had to develop space crafts that could make soft landings to protect the passengers and the equipment on board. The challenge of an egg drop was to make a craft that will survive a crash landing.
“I’ve seen students use Jello, talcum powder, cotton, peanut butter, foam, ice cream, chalk, water, Nerf balls, concrete, cereal, insulation, sand, ice, and many stuffed animals. I had to stipulate that we use raw chicken eggs because we had a few students using boiled eggs and an ant egg one year! “ Zimmer said.
Students were challenged to make a craft that can safely transport one raw chicken egg 40 feet from the top of the athletic field press box.
Students were asked to use the scientific process to solve this task, he said.
Students then use the data to calculate percentages, make graphs, and draw conclusions. The students worked at home coming up with many ideas that they think will survive the crash.
After 114 eggs went from the pressbox roof to the ground, success rates were calculated. The 2017 success rate, in which 72 eggs safely reached their landing spot, was 63 percent. That was 6 percent lower than the 2016 success rate of 69 percent, Zimmer said.
“Over the years we had to eliminate parachutes and balloons. They get tangled up and were a hassle,” Zimmer said.
“One year I opened up a parachute on a windy day and off it went. Another year I let go of a craft attached to balloons and it went straight up and away. It was retrieved a couple blocks from school with the egg intact,” he said.
Maggie Westling and Isaac Dembele were two students who had eggs survive. Matthew Lawrence and Brent Dammer were among the 37 percent of students who found their eggs smashed to smithereens when they opened their crafts.
Maggie’s surviving egg was unique. She has five chickens at home, and her chicken named Falcon laid the egg she launched from the school pressbox.
“I wrapped mine in bubble wrap,” Maggie said of her egg. She then wrapped the egg in a second layer of bubble wrap. That was the secret to her egg surviving.
Isaac was certain his egg would be doomed because it was in the center of a geodesic-type of a contraption supported by four “beams” of plastic straws.
“I don’t know how it survived,” Isaac said. “The egg was just in the middle of a bunch of straws,” he said.
Matthew Lawrence was sure his egg would survive. It didn’t.
He took a cardboard tube from a roll of paper towels and packed one end with foam packing peanuts. He then added his egg and packed the rest of the tube with packing peanuts.
As Matthew looked around at crafts made by his fellow students, he came to a conclusion.
“I don’t know why my egg didn’t make it. Maybe its because I didn’t use bubble wrap,” he said.
Then there was Brent Dammer who had a mess.
“I surrounded by egg with cotton balls in a baggy,” Brent said. “I really didn’t have a chance.”
“It is interesting to see what the students come up with each year,” Zimmer said.