August 1, 2016

The Great Egg Drop Challenge

Are you interested in promoting STEM with an egg drop makerspace challenge?  Here are some steps to get you started.  

Last spring, I helped my elementary host an all-school egg drop challenge.  In April, a colleague and I drafted the requirements and sent it out to teachers.  The K-5 teachers chose to have their class participate or not.  Most students who participated where from grades 2nd to 5th.  Teachers chose when and how their students would work on their egg drop challenge.  Many teachers taught relatable science curriculum on momentum, pressure, air resistance, and gravity.  Some teachers required students to design a project on paper first, while other teachers gave students materials and had them create as they go.  No matter what was done, the basic requirements for the egg drop challenge were the same for all.  Here are the challenge details:

Students will design and construct an egg protective device.  They may work alone, in pairs, or in a small group.  Each project will be given one raw egg and limited materials to choose from.  Students can test their devices in the classroom prior to dropping them at the test site.

Students can choose 12 items from the following list materials:
  • 12x12 piece of cardboard
  • 5 elastic bands
  • 8 popsicle sticks
  • 1 meter of tape
  • 2 sheets of construction paper
  • 1 plastic bag
  • 10 straws
  • 1 styrofoam cup
  • 6 cotton balls
  • 8 Q-tips
  • 1 meter of toilet paper
  • 30cm string/yard
  • 1 paper plate
  • 5 pieces of tissue paper
  • 2 12inch sheets of plastic wrap
  • 2 12inch sheets of aluminum foil
These materials will be provided to all:
  • scissors
  • rulers
  • pencils
  • Elmer’s glue
Here are the specifications/rules:
  • The project can not be wider than 12 inches or taller that 12 inches.
  • No parachutes allowed.
  • The egg must be easily placed and removed from the project.  
  • An area the size of a quarter of the egg must be visible at all times.
  • Only the allowed materials provided at school (not home) may be used.
  • Only raw, store bought chicken eggs may be used.  You may not change the egg in any way (no tape on the egg, no boiling the egg in water, or soaking the egg in vinegar).
After the challenge specifications were provided to teachers, classrooms got signed up, and students began working on their designs.  Within a few weeks, the entire school gathered in the gym to watch the preliminary dropping of devices.  The egg projects were dropped from a 12 foot high scissor lift.  There were oohs and aahs when eggs broke and created a mess, and loud celebrations when eggs survived the fall.  The students were captivated, and really got into the glory and defeat.  Projects with eggs that survived moved on to the final round.  

The culminating event for egg drop challenge involved a visit from the local firefighters.  The whole school gathered outside to watch the egg project finalist be dropped from the firetruck’s bucket lifted 25 feet into the air.  Once again, their were screams when projects landed with a loud crack and eggs spilled onto the blacktop and wild celebrations when projects landed softly and eggs were held up intact.  In the end, there were 19 students with eggs that survived and winning project designs.  These winners were featured on the district webpage as STEM master builders.  

If you’re school supports STEM and a makerspace mentality, implement an egg drop challenge.  It can be done within a classroom, grade level, or the entire school.  The students will learn a lot and most of all, have fun!


  1. Hi do you have any suggestions for making this activity more challenging for 6th/7th/8th grade students in a makerspace club?

    1. To make this challenge more difficult, you could reduce the number of items that students can select. Instead of 12 items, they can only choose 6 items. You could also reduce the size of the projects, requiring they be no more than 6 inches high and 6 inches wide (instead of 12 inches high and 12 inches wide).

    2. Thank you for your quick reply! I'll try those out :)