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  #1  
Old 06-18-2010, 03:52 PM
Arnold Winkelried Arnold Winkelried is offline
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building a container in which a raw egg can safely drop from 15 feet

My son is in first grade, and at his school they are doing a "scrambled egg" event:
Build a container around a raw egg, such that you can drop the raw egg from a height of fifteen feet without the egg breaking. You can use anything.

Today they showed as an example a tetrahedron built out of bagels with an egg in the middle, and an egg hidden inside a bunch of bananas. Both of those examples were surrounded by bubble wrap. In each case, the teacher throw the container in the air, and when it fell, the egg broke.

What would be a good solution? My first idea is a cardboard box (let's say, about 7" x 7" x 6" or 17cm x 17 cm x 15 cm). fill it with crumpled up newspaper tightly packed, with an egg in the middle.

I'm going to search the intarwebs now but what do my fellow Dopers have to say?
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  #2  
Old 06-18-2010, 04:00 PM
silenus silenus is online now
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I used to do something like this with my Earth Science classes years ago. IIRC, I limited them rather severely when it came to materials. Cotton balls seem to work the best at absorbing the shock of impact. Try a 1' cube of light cardboard. Lightly tape cotton balls around the egg. Place egg in center of cube. Fill the inside with cotton balls. Lightly seal cube with tape. The key to this design is "lightly." You want things to collapse and crumple. That absorbs all the shock.

I'm assuming parachutes are forbidden?

Last edited by silenus; 06-18-2010 at 04:01 PM..
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  #3  
Old 06-18-2010, 04:01 PM
Mr. Excellent Mr. Excellent is offline
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You've got about the right idea. I always did well in egg-drop contests as a kid , largely because I did simple and well-padded designs, while more ambitious kids made elaborate latticeworks of balsa-wood or whatever that usually failed on impact.

I think my last egg-drop container (in middle school) was pretty much this:

Use a can-opener to remove the top from a can of beer. Place egg inside, padded with paper towels. Put the beer-can in a tennis-ball can, padded with paper towels. Tape the tennis-ball can lid firmly shut. Decorate as desired.

The thing worked, perfectly, and took all of ten minutes to put together.
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Old 06-18-2010, 04:02 PM
bordelond bordelond is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arnold Winkelried View Post
My son is in first grade, and at his school they are doing a "scrambled egg" event ...
No summer vacation for the little guy?

Sounds like an advanced and very cool experiment for first grade. So maybe summer school ain't so bad.
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  #5  
Old 06-18-2010, 04:02 PM
Wordy Wordy is offline
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Put a parachute on the egg.

And this is for 1st grade? WTF? They should just be stacking blocks. They will have enough trouble just using scissors.
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  #6  
Old 06-18-2010, 04:04 PM
Wordy Wordy is offline
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If you want to cheat a bit, soak the egg in vinegar which will soften the shell making it much less likely to crack. It will be a wobbly raw egg.
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  #7  
Old 06-18-2010, 04:05 PM
bordelond bordelond is offline
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Originally Posted by Arnold Winkelried View Post
What would be a good solution? My first idea is a cardboard box (let's say, about 7" x 7" x 6" or 17cm x 17 cm x 15 cm). fill it with crumpled up newspaper tightly packed, with an egg in the middle.
Or rather loosely packed, actually. The egg has to be able to move through the medium a little, or too much impact gets transfered straight to the shell.
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  #8  
Old 06-18-2010, 04:05 PM
Spoke Spoke is offline
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And this is for 1st grade? WTF? They should just be stacking blocks.
Word, Wordy.

This sounds like homework for parents.
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  #9  
Old 06-18-2010, 04:10 PM
TruCelt TruCelt is offline
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A tetrahedron of drinking straws (staples are a good connector) surrounding whatever core you go with (the double can sounds really good) Will add "crumple zones" to prevent a tragedy if it hits in just the wrong spot.
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  #10  
Old 06-18-2010, 04:11 PM
Skammer Skammer is offline
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Fifteen feet? Our eggs were dropped off the roof of our three-story school. But we were in highschool.

We also had to build a structure out of toothpicks that could support the most weight compared to everyone else's.
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  #11  
Old 06-18-2010, 04:12 PM
Arnold Winkelried Arnold Winkelried is offline
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bordelond: next week is his last week of school. Some kids have already started their vacations? I thought July and August were the vacation months.

Mr. Excellent: I am astonished that you suggested the beer can, and silenus didn't! I think silenus must be getting tamer in his old age.

You know, maybe the first graders aren't officially participating in this event. They mentioned it this morning during what they call "flag deck", but possibly it's only for some of the older classes (this is a 1st-6th grade elementary school.) I'll have to ask his teacher. I'm sure if he does bring in something for the contest, they won't turn him away. Homework for the parents? You betcha! We'll have fun on father's day experimenting.
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  #12  
Old 06-18-2010, 04:12 PM
Wordy Wordy is offline
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Another option is to use helium balloons and just tape the egg onto it.

If that's not possible, then just get a small box and a can of expanding styrofoam from the hardware store.
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  #13  
Old 06-18-2010, 04:12 PM
Attack from the 3rd dimension Attack from the 3rd dimension is offline
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Originally Posted by Mr. Excellent View Post
You've got about the right idea. I always did well in egg-drop contests as a kid , largely because I did simple and well-padded designs, while more ambitious kids made elaborate latticeworks of balsa-wood or whatever that usually failed on impact.

I think my last egg-drop container (in middle school) was pretty much this:

Use a can-opener to remove the top from a can of beer. Place egg inside, padded with paper towels. Put the beer-can in a tennis-ball can, padded with paper towels. Tape the tennis-ball can lid firmly shut. Decorate as desired.

The thing worked, perfectly, and took all of ten minutes to put together.
This is exactly how MomAttack used to pack parcels for the post. A box in a box in a box in a box with cookies in the center. They were indestructible, but also impenetrable.


The engineering students used to do this contest off the Duke Chapel. Is your kid at Doctor Xavier's Academy or something?
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  #14  
Old 06-18-2010, 04:14 PM
Arnold Winkelried Arnold Winkelried is offline
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I don't know if parachutes are allowed. I'll have to find out. But they said "container" so I imagine parachutes are ruled out.

RE: soaking the egg in vinegar - they will probably have vinegar-detecting bloodhounds at the event. But I'll check on the list of banned substances.

Thanks for all the suggestions!
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  #15  
Old 06-18-2010, 04:16 PM
JoeH2O JoeH2O is offline
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Also, if you can design it so that when the device falls, it orients the egg so that any forces that are translated to the egg do so from the ends rather than sideways on. An egg is much stronger in that direction than it is when it is squeezed from the sides.
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  #16  
Old 06-18-2010, 04:17 PM
Arnold Winkelried Arnold Winkelried is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wordy View Post
Another option is to use helium balloons and just tape the egg onto it.
I imagine that the egg has to actually fall on the ground. Helium balloons will have it flying away, right?
Quote:
If that's not possible, then just get a small box and a can of expanding styrofoam from the hardware store.
I don't know what that is. but I imagine it's going to be some sticky substance. If I use this method, can I get the egg out of container afterwards?
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  #17  
Old 06-18-2010, 04:18 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is online now
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Take an empty plastic mayonaisse jar. Fill it with a brine strong enough to float an egg. Put the egg in the brine, and put the lid on the jar.

Drop the jar. The egg will sink in the brine, but not hit the bottom, then rise again, unbroken.
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  #18  
Old 06-18-2010, 04:23 PM
Wordy Wordy is offline
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Originally Posted by Arnold Winkelried View Post
I imagine that the egg has to actually fall on the ground. Helium balloons will have it flying away, right?
I don't know what that is. but I imagine it's going to be some sticky substance. If I use this method, can I get the egg out of container afterwards?
You can attach small ballast weights onto the balloon and egg so that its just slowly falls to the ground.

Expanding styrofoam is very sticky when wet, but let it dry for a couple of hours and it is not. I think the best option is to get a small box and fill it with the foam, let it dry and then take a saw and cut the box with the foam in half. Then you can scoop out a hole for the egg in the two half boxes and tape the whole thing together.
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  #19  
Old 06-18-2010, 04:28 PM
YamatoTwinkie YamatoTwinkie is offline
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When I was in 6th or 7th grade, my egg-drop entry consisted of a cubic frame made from coathanger wire sections joined together, and inside of it I suspended a plastic strawberry basket using rubber bands. Inside the basket was two pieces of sponge (the car washing type), with an egg shaped hole cut out of it.
I also threw in a parachute for good measure. The egg survived.
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  #20  
Old 06-18-2010, 04:28 PM
silenus silenus is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arnold Winkelried View Post
Mr. Excellent: I am astonished that you suggested the beer can, and silenus didn't! I think silenus must be getting tamer in his old age.
Did you forget what a beer snob I am? Canned beer? Please.
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  #21  
Old 06-18-2010, 04:30 PM
beowulff beowulff is offline
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When we did this, the one that worked best was modeling clay - surround the egg, and wrap with cardboard.
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  #22  
Old 06-18-2010, 04:30 PM
bordelond bordelond is offline
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Originally Posted by Arnold Winkelried View Post
bordelond: next week is his last week of school. Some kids have already started their vacations? I thought July and August were the vacation months.
Around here -- and I had thought in most of the U.S. -- schools typically let out in late May. This is public, private, and parochial.

This kind of thing varies a lot from place to place, though. And the kids here go back to school mid-August ... maybe in other locales, they start later.
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  #23  
Old 06-18-2010, 04:31 PM
No Me Ayudes Compadre No Me Ayudes Compadre is offline
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I won this contest in 7th grade by putting the egg in a semirigid plastic cup, like the kind they give away with kid meals at Chilis/Fridays/etc., full of peanut butter.
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  #24  
Old 06-18-2010, 04:39 PM
Duckster Duckster is offline
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Originally Posted by Arnold Winkelried View Post
bordelond: next week is his last week of school. Some kids have already started their vacations? I thought July and August were the vacation months.
Boy, times have changed. We finished school the last week of May/first week of June and did not have to report back until after Labor Day. Of course, that was when going to/from school was uphill both ways, snow/cold didn't stop us (and school didn't close), and Mom/Pop/school buses were for sissies. Real school kids walked or rode bicycles.

Oh yeah. The new kid in the fall who came from another state often was held back a year cuz our state standards were tougher than 48 of the 50 states.

And teachers used RED PENCILS to mark tests and papers.

Kids got it easy these days.
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  #25  
Old 06-18-2010, 04:40 PM
Spoke Spoke is offline
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How about this:

Take a roll of paper towels. Find an egg that fits snugly inside the cardboard center. (Large eggs fit almost perfectly. Nice and snug.) Stick the egg in one end. Stuff the other end loosely with a few paper towels. Put a weight on the opposite end from the egg, so that end lands first.

Drop it.

The roll should land on the end opposite the egg. Friction between the egg's sides and the inside of the cardboard roll will slow the egg's descent through the tube upon impact, and the paper towel wadding will provide additional braking. When the roll then falls over on its side, the paper towels on the roll itself will absorb that impact.

You might even get this to work using just the cardboard center and a few paper towels for stuffing. Maybe a little padding on the outside.

Adding the weight would be key, to make sure the roll lands on the correct end, opposite the egg, and also to prevent the contraption from bouncing too high on first impact.

Is there a weight or size limit? Seems to me I recall that the Duke competition (mentioned by Attack from the 3rd dimension) had some limits of this type.
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  #26  
Old 06-18-2010, 04:47 PM
Attack from the 3rd dimension Attack from the 3rd dimension is offline
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I'm getting flashbacks from Jonathan Swift here, but [I]which end of the egg is stronger ? [/I

This would seem to be a crucial preliminary question.
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  #27  
Old 06-18-2010, 05:03 PM
phi2dao phi2dao is offline
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My favorite egg-drop thingy, which shouldn't be replicated as it shouldn't have worked, was an ice cream cone made of drinking straws witht he egg where the ice cream would go.

I thought that the cone would fall straight down, and the point of the cone would keep the egg from breaking. Of course, because the egg was so much heavier than the drinking straws, the cone rotated in mid air.

But it didn't flip all the way around. No, by the time it hit the ground the cone had only turned half way, with the side of the cone almost parallel to the ground.

Instead of the side of the egg hitting the floor and breaking, the cone hit just before the egg did and wedged the egg out of the cone, sending it skidding across the floor totally unharmed.
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  #28  
Old 06-18-2010, 05:03 PM
wolfman wolfman is offline
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I did a shock suspended egg solution when I had to do that, of course it was 5th grade.

I built a padded little egg shaped cage with eight holes drilled for key rings. The found a cardboard box considerably bigger, poked holes in the corners and threaded rubber bands through the key rings and out the holes and tied with good tension.

Worked like a charm, plus it's kind of cool when you drop a box that hit the ground, sits still a fraction of a second then makes a little hop.
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  #29  
Old 06-18-2010, 05:07 PM
Fuzzy Dunlop Fuzzy Dunlop is offline
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Originally Posted by Arnold Winkelried View Post
Today they showed as an example a tetrahedron built out of bagels with an egg in the middle, and an egg hidden inside a bunch of bananas. Both of those examples were surrounded by bubble wrap. In each case, the teacher throw the container in the air, and when it fell, the egg broke.
Why wouldn't you just wrap it in bubble wrap 40 times? Or seal it in the center of a cubic yard of polyurethane foam in an egg shaped cavity? I'm not very good at thinking like a first grader, but if I had a first grader with an egg to protect I'd do one of those two.
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  #30  
Old 06-18-2010, 05:11 PM
Ignatz Ignatz is offline
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In a team-building exercise at my last job we were given the egg, 2 plastic drinking straws and about a foot of sticky tape, with a drop height of 6 feet onto a tile floor. My team was the only successful one of 4. My idea was accepted by the team. We (allowably) cut the straws into short lengths and taped them in 3-4 layers to the Brobdignagian end and it worked.
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  #31  
Old 06-18-2010, 05:16 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Nobody's mentioned the obvious yet? Put it in a 15 foot tall container, so when you drop it it hits the ground immediately.

Hey, don't look at me like that! I'm a theorist.
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  #32  
Old 06-18-2010, 05:19 PM
Wordy Wordy is offline
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Nobody's mentioned the obvious yet? Put it in a 15 foot tall container, so when you drop it it hits the ground immediately.

Hey, don't look at me like that! I'm a theorist.
Better yet, put a rocket engine underneath the egg to slow it's descent.
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  #33  
Old 06-18-2010, 05:26 PM
atomicbadgerrace atomicbadgerrace is offline
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Originally Posted by wolfman View Post
I did a shock suspended egg solution when I had to do that, of course it was 5th grade.

I built a padded little egg shaped cage with eight holes drilled for key rings. The found a cardboard box considerably bigger, poked holes in the corners and threaded rubber bands through the key rings and out the holes and tied with good tension.

Worked like a charm, plus it's kind of cool when you drop a box that hit the ground, sits still a fraction of a second then makes a little hop.
This is almost exactly what I did in school, as well. Worked every time.
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  #34  
Old 06-18-2010, 05:33 PM
Raguleader Raguleader is online now
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What I did when we had this assignment in high school was to take one ziplock sandwich bag, inflate it maybe 75-80% with air and seal it, rest the egg on top and stack another loosely inflated ziplock bag on top of it, both of them taped around the egg. Then I opened the top one a bit so the force traveling through the whole thing on impact would waste energy blowing air out the top bag. Now that I think about it, I wonder if I couldn't just leave the top bag off entirely.

Now the fun random thing that I learned from a C-130 Loadmaster in the Texas Air National Guard. They can air-drop fresh eggs from several thousand feet up. They use a special kind of pallet where you have a packing material not unlike corrugated cardboard, with a layer of eggs, then another layer of the cardboard, and so on. It was designed so that, when the pallet landed (parachute assisted, unless somebody messed up rigging the thing), the force of the impact would collapse the cardboard layers, but they would in the process cushion the landing of the eggs. Most of the eggs would survive the impact (a few would be broken, but then you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs!)
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  #35  
Old 06-18-2010, 05:35 PM
DocCathode DocCathode is offline
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Originally Posted by No Me Ayudes Compadre View Post
I won this contest in 7th grade by putting the egg in a semirigid plastic cup, like the kind they give away with kid meals at Chilis/Fridays/etc., full of peanut butter.
I clicked on the thread to suggest this.
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  #36  
Old 06-18-2010, 05:35 PM
Raguleader Raguleader is online now
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Better yet, put a rocket engine underneath the egg to slow it's descent.
If you do this, then you need to drop several dozen eggs at once to simulate a StarShip Troopers landing scene.
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  #37  
Old 06-18-2010, 05:45 PM
billfish678 billfish678 is offline
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Better yet, put a rocket engine underneath the egg to slow it's descent.
Eons ago I checked out a model rocketry book where some kid did exactly that with model rocket engines

It would work, but I'd imagine like all things rocket its pretty hard to get things precise enough to work reliably.

I like the paper towel roll idea myself. Put fins on it. Also put a big blob of clay on the bottom end so it fall right end down. Also that clay will absord a good deal of the impact and minimizing any bouncing that might occur.

Last edited by billfish678; 06-18-2010 at 05:48 PM..
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  #38  
Old 06-18-2010, 06:45 PM
Nametag Nametag is offline
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Best strategy I've ever seen uses plastic wrap. Cut a long piece, and roll the egg across the short side so that there are several layers around the egg (or use two pieces, staggered, just to make sure). The long ends will dangle on either end of the egg. Now cut two holes on opposite sides of a rigid container, like a popcorn tin. Pass an end of the plastic through each hole, and secure firmly, leaving the egg suspended in the middle of the container. Drop it from 15 feet -- hell, 30 feet -- and no harm will come to the egg.
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  #39  
Old 06-18-2010, 06:58 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is online now
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Attach it to a helium balloon, filled to just under neutral bouyancy.
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  #40  
Old 06-18-2010, 07:02 PM
Spoke Spoke is offline
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Originally Posted by Fuzzy Dunlop View Post
Why wouldn't you just wrap it in bubble wrap 40 times? Or seal it in the center of a cubic yard of polyurethane foam in an egg shaped cavity?
This is why I'm guessing the competition has size and weight limits.
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  #41  
Old 06-18-2010, 07:05 PM
Wordy Wordy is offline
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Another very useful trick: Empty out the egg.
http://www.ehow.com/how_15776_hollow-egg.html

You'll be left with an intact egg shell with nothing inside. The judges won't know the difference.
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  #42  
Old 06-18-2010, 07:21 PM
miamouse miamouse is offline
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2 things that worked in the last project like this I was in: mine was using bamboo skewers and marshmallows, kind of like a teepee; the other was heavy weight motor oil in a tupperware container. (make sure tupperware can withstand fall).
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  #43  
Old 06-18-2010, 07:26 PM
Superhal Superhal is offline
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When I was in kindergarten, our teacher did this. I think the winner was an egg with lots of packing material (styrofoam peanuts or something) inside of a milk carton, but the distance was very low. Less than 10 feet iirc.

Brain fart: Tape the egg on top of a X foot long tripod (like a ladder.) X being the number of feet of the drop, so the actual drop is less than a couple of inches, e.g. if the drop is 10 feet, tape the egg to the top of a box that is 9'11" tall.

Last edited by Superhal; 06-18-2010 at 07:28 PM..
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  #44  
Old 06-18-2010, 07:55 PM
ZipperJJ ZipperJJ is offline
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Instead of clay, you could use rubber balloons full of corn starch and water. That's one of the things I remember that the egg drop team used in Science Olympiad.
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  #45  
Old 06-18-2010, 07:57 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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For those suggesting rigging the egg (emptying it out or soaking it in vinegar), usually the organizers of the contest will supply the eggs on the spot. This probably also rules out the snug-fit cardboard tube.
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  #46  
Old 06-18-2010, 09:42 PM
MikeS MikeS is offline
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The guy who won this contest in my middle school filled his box with Cheerios and put the egg on top. The Cheerios made a lovely crunching sound when the box landed, but in sacrificing themselves they dissipated the kinetic energy of the egg quite effectively.
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  #47  
Old 06-18-2010, 09:53 PM
billfish678 billfish678 is offline
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Put the egg in box.

Change the gravitational constant. No need to make this shit complicated.
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  #48  
Old 06-19-2010, 01:00 AM
wolfman wolfman is offline
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
For those suggesting rigging the egg (emptying it out or soaking it in vinegar), usually the organizers of the contest will supply the eggs on the spot. This probably also rules out the snug-fit cardboard tube.
Hehe that's why my egg cage was build out of those old metal finger splints. Padding built in, and just enough spring without deformation to slip an egg in but keep the cage shape after.
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  #49  
Old 06-19-2010, 01:45 AM
EvilTOJ EvilTOJ is offline
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Here's my design for a foolproof egg shock-absorber; take one empty coffee can, and fill it 3/4 with sand. The clumping kitty litter will work fine too. Put the egg on top of the sand, and I orient it so the fat part of the egg faces down. Fill all the way with sand, tape the lid down. Drop the can bottom side down, and that's it!
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  #50  
Old 06-19-2010, 03:55 AM
Adradis Adradis is offline
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Probably quite the waste of good bread, but in high school, my group took one of those round sourdough bread rolls (With the flat bottom), carved out a spot in the center, padded it with lightly shredded tissue paper, and taped the base of the bread back on. Held out perfectly on the actual drop, and lasted in tests till about a vertical throw upwards that got to about 3 stories high, spinning.
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