Egg parachutes? Really? Well, let me just tell you how excited students were to see “Egg Drop” on our agenda board! In fact, we had Egg Week!
I had third graders designing Egg Cars. Fourth graders were working on Egg Towers.
Fifth graders were doing the ultimate Egg Parachute Drop from a 20-foot height. What a fabulous week we had!
This egg parachute project has so many steps!
- Students must build the canopy of the parachute.
- The length of the strings relative to the size of the canopy is a concern.
- Attaching the strings is a big deal!
- Students must design a carrier to safely transport the egg to the ground.
- Then we drop the egg from a 20-foot ladder!
We used a unique material for some of our canopies. I was given some very large coffee filters with a STEM kit (and training session). These have a 14 or 18-inch diameter. Students could choose the size they wanted.
Students also had the option of bringing in their own ideas for the canopy. Many brought in shopping bags. I also supplied them with garbage bags or tissue paper. We had many kinds of canopies.
TIP: Plastic bags or garbage bags make great canopies. However, students want to just use the handles of the bag attached to the item being parachuted to the ground. This does not work! The bags do not open enough to catch the amount of air needed to float to the ground.
Students really need to cut the bags open so they have one large piece of plastic. Then they can cut a circle from the plastic to make their parachute.
This is the next problem we encountered. How do you attach the strings? Where are they attached? How long should they be?
We set up some experiments for this one year! Each team was given the same size coffee filter. Each team had strings of different lengths. They built the parachute and we dropped them with a binder clip attached as the passenger. We watched carefully to see which length of string allowed the parachutes to fully open and float to the ground.
TIP: The strings cannot be too short. They also cannot be super long. The really long ones allow the passenger to reach the ground too soon! The parachutes will open, but land quickly with those really long strings.
For these Egg Parachutes, students attached strings and then tested them multiple times to find the right lengths.
TIP: We have discovered that a small piece of tape is the best way to attach strings. They can usually be removed easily. Making holes and tying knots is more difficult.
THE EGG CARRIER
Students were allowed to bring in their own materials to use for the egg carrier. We had some interesting items. One team wanted to use a peanut butter jar. They had researched egg drops at home and found a video of students dropping eggs from a school rooftop. The egg was immersed in the peanut butter and did not break when the jar hit the ground. But, the peanut butter jar was too heavy for our parachutes!
Above, in the top photo, you see a team that was using a red cup in place of the peanut butter jar. They are trying to attach the jar lid to the red cup. This was also too heavy for the parachute.
In the bottom photo is a team that brought in bags of Lego. Their plan was to build the carrier out of the Lego. Did this work?
Sadly, no. They made a great carrier. However, it took much longer to build than they had expected. And, the worst part was testing the carrier with the parachute! When it hit the ground it broke apart into many, many pieces. What a great learning experience for this team!
To the left is another carrier. The team made the frame from straws and added a piece of foam to the bottom, along with layers of tissue paper.
This was very lightweight and held the egg nicely.
READY TO TEST
This egg parachute project was a 2-week challenge. During the first week, we made the parachutes, tested them, and worked on the egg carriers. In the second week, we finished the carriers and tested them from a low drop using only the carriers.
Finally, after a lot of testing, it was time to try the BIG DROP! I climbed a 20-foot ladder and dropped each parachute with a real egg. We all held our breath as the eggs were checked to see if they survived. We did lose a few!
But here is an egg that made it!
TIP: Place eggs in a zippered bag when dropping them. No mess to clean up!
This a great little project for your upper elementary students. This is a multi-day challenge, but I also have a simple egg drop challenge. Click on any of the images to see the Egg Parachutes in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. The Simple Egg Drop is linked below for you!