OUR TURN: Egg-citing Day
By Emalee Parker
8th Grade, NCSS
What can you learn from an egg, a milk carton, and a piece of string? Well, I created a project on the subject “Emergency Egress Systems.” My class joined me in my learning, which then turned into a competition. The project started out as a research project about the Economics of NASA. During my research, I learned about the accident with the Apollo 1 spacecraft on January 27th, 1967, where there was a tragic fire, and as a result, NASA thought it would be a good idea to create an emergency egress system to help the astronauts escape if there was a similar problem in the future.
My advisor and I decided to teach the class about the egress systems and their braking systems, and I became the expert. I taught he other students about the 1967 tragedy and the physics behind the basket line system (kinetic vs. potential energy), how to build the basket and how to let it go to protect an egg (the astronaut) from smashing against a cinder block at the end of the line by using a brake system. Students created different braking systems using string, rubber bands, pipe cleaner springs, or “speed bumps” on the fishing line. The whole point of this project was to build a smaller model of an astronaut escape and to learn the importance of egress systems, and the importance of escapes.
We set up an eight foot ladder connected to a cinder block by fishing line. The fishing line acted as the escape route for the milk carton baskets. We also covered the classroom carpeting with plastic painting drop cloths to protect it from broken eggs. Our advisory was separated into 5 different teams, with 1-4 students on each team. The day of the contest, the teams spent most of the day brainstorming, creating, testing and revising our basket designs and braking systems to figure out which ones protected the egg the most effectively. Everyone had the same kind of string to hold the basket on the fishing line, so we had to use the braking systems as the variable to protect the egg.
Our task was to not have the egg break, but to stay together, and whoever had their basket hit the block in the least amount of time won. When each team had perfected our basket designs, we were ready to compete. We ended the day by testing our systems, and the pipe cleaners did not work very well for braking systems, but the string worked pretty well. Some teams taped string to their milk carton basket and it stopped it just in time to keep the egg safe.
I really enjoyed learning about emergency egress systems and teaching my class about them. Our competition was fun and educational, and we improved our teamwork, realizing that when we work together for a common goal like making a successful egress system, we can do it.