# 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?

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?

You’ve got about the right idea. I always did well in egg-drop contests as a kid :D, 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Word, Wordy.

This sounds like homework for parents.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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!

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

Did you forget what a beer snob I am? Canned beer? Please.