Inquiry: Using an Egg Drop Activity to Promote Critical Thinking and Analysis Skills
In this hands-on inquiry activity, students will design and construct an apparatus that will permit an egg to survive a nine foot fall. Students are given limited materials, so they must critically think about the design and improvise strategies during the building of the apparatus. After testing their apparatuses, students will analyze the designs and the designs of the other students in the class.
1. This activity is designed for students to continue to develop their critical thinking skills.
2. This activity involves students utilizing and improving their skills of design, development, and construction of an egg drop apparatus.
3. This activity uses student observation skills during the egg drop so they can analyze what designs do and do not work.
1. Students will develop ideas, create blueprints, complete construction, and test their designs.
2. After testing their egg drops, students will critically analyze their own and others' designs.
Context for Use
Resource Type: Activities:Lab Activity
Grade Level: High School (9-12)
Description and Teaching Materials
I tell my student engineers in class that their mission is to safely return an egg to Earth after being dropped from the ceiling using only the limited resources that I give them. The rules for this assignment are as follows:
1. Only the materials that I give the students are allowed for use.
2. Only white glue or hot glue are allowed.
3. No materials can be directly glued to the eggs.
4. Not all materials have to be used.
The materials given to the students are not unchangeable when used in your own classroom. I usually scrounge around my room and give my students the following materials:
- 1 plastic sandwich bag
- 2 plastic straws
- 10 popsicle sticks
- 1-1.5 meters of string
- 2 paper clips
- 2 rubber bands
- 2 cotton swabs
- 2 pieces of computer paper
- 2 toothpicks
The sequence of the activity is as follows. First the students need to think about their materials and how they are going to use them. While doing this, I have them make a blueprint/sketch of the design they are going to use. The introduction and these beginning activities will take about 30 minutes. The next two 30 minute blocks of time are used by the students to construct their egg drop apparatuses. Then we use the final 45 minute block of time to conduct the actual egg drops and analyze the results. I will begin having students complete an analysis worksheet in addition to the analysis discussion that we have after each participant completes their egg drops.
Analysis Worksheet (Microsoft Word 26kB Sep25 07)
Teaching Notes and Tips
- While students are working, make sure that they are making their apparatuses large enough to hold an egg.
- Stress the planning and design stage since students will not be given more materials. Once they cut their string, it is cut and they can't get a new piece of string.
- My room is on the third floor of our school. If student eggs survive the drop from the ceiling, I let them drop out the window. If it survives the three story drop, I give that group extra credit.
- I have completed this activity numerous times, but I am planning on placing more of an emphasis on the final analysis portion of the project. I want the students to use their analysis skills to discover the connection between design and performance.
- Blueprint/sketch is worth 10 points.
- The actual egg drop test is worth 30 points. If the egg survives the student earns 30 points. If the egg cracks or is broken it is worth 20 points.
- The analysis worksheet is worth 10 points. This is where the critical thinking and analysis skills will be assessed formally.
B. 1 - Design and complete an experiment
Grade 9-12 II. Physical Science
D. 2 - Friction and gravity