Westside Middle School students learn engineering from egg drop

Some eggs packed to survive 95-foot fall

One hundred sixth-grade students at Westside Middle School Academy stood outside on the cold morning of Nov. 8 and looked up at the 95-foot ladder of a firetruck parked next to the school -- and hoped that they had really done their homework well.

Their homework (and classwork) was to use their engineering skills to protect an egg from a 95-foot drop. City firefighters volunteered to spend part of the morning parachuting eggs from the top of the ladder to test the design of students’ escape pods. The students worked in groups of four to perfect their pods. At the end of the A total of 48 percent of the eggs survived their drop in this fourth annual event; the highest rate of survival was 72 percent two years ago.

The students are in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program at Westside. Teacher Jon Neuhausel said the project engages students in brainstorming, planning, building and testing their design and redesigning and retesting. Students are required to consider their constraints, whether they be time, supply and/or weight. Supplies for the projects are provided and include: plastic bag, paper bag, string, cup, cotton balls, bubble wrap, pipe cleaners, sticks and paper clips.

“The egg drop is a great example of our teachers’ creating an experience that both challenges and excites students,” said Superintendent Dr. Sal Pascarella. “Quality teaching that takes a project outside of the classroom and into the real world can only result in a quality education for our students.”

The very first egg dropped by the Danbury Fire Department belonged to Gisella Malla and her group “the omeletts.”

“It will probably make it because of the way we layered it up with cotton and bubble wrap,” Gisella said.

Unfortunately, the egg didn’t make it – although it was only cracked and did not splatter.

“It needed more padding on the sides and bottom,” said Dayanna Apolo. “We worked hard on it and thought it would be successful.”


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