Protect Your Egg

April 8, 2014

The students taking Physical Science with Mr. Benge recently completed a group project titled, "Protect Your Egg".  This project required the students to use all of the knowledge that they have acquired throughout the semester while studying the basic laws of motion and energy.  During the second semester the students have covered topics ranging from speed and velocity to Newton's laws. 

Using all of this as their background knowledge, the students were all introduced to the project with a video on motor vehicle safety testing.  The video showed how the Department of Motor Vehicles tests each new vehicle every year to determine which ones are the safest to drive during a car accident.   After watching the video, the students were told to imagine themselves as the people designing the cars that would be tested.  "What parts of the car keep us safe in car accidents?"  "What factors determine whether or not you are safe or injured during an accident?" These are just a few examples of the kind of questions the students were asked to consider when thinking of car designs.

Each group's car started from the same base model and then they were given household items, such as, cotton balls, hot glue, and Popsicle sticks to build the safest car possible.  In this project, the egg represented the person inside of the car during an accident.  The only rules when building their cars were that the egg could not be permanently fixed into their car and that it must be a car with 4 turning wheels.  For the most part, all other modifications were fair game.  As you can imagine, the ideas that the students came up with were very unique and way out of the box!  The students were given a week during class to construct their car, as well as, writing a full scientific report of their findings and research.  They were asked to write their report as if they were planning to present their ideas for the next great safety feature to a board of directors at a major car company. 

The students were allowed to bring any school appropriate materials from home that they wanted to use on their car and one group even went as far as bringing rabbit fur to work as a makeshift bumper!  Their strategy was that the fur being soft would absorb more of the force and leave their egg safe.  However a clever idea, this would not lead them to success because their egg broke in the early stages of the competition due to the lack of attention to counteracting the egg's momentum at impact.  The car hit softly but the egg continued out the front of the car and splattered on the floor.

Group presentations followed by a "friendly" head to head competition between the groups in each class topped off the project.   After school we held a "Grand Championship" round in which the winners from each period faced off against one another.  The winning cars were able to successfully "protect their egg" from breaking at a height in which the ramp was nearly vertical.  This showed that their cars were the real deal and should be considered the best of the best!

Overall, the project was a great success!  The students successfully showed that they understood that in order to keep their egg from breaking, they must design their car in a way that minimizes the amount of force applied to the egg during the crash.  Also, the groups were required to work as a team to successfully get this project done on time.  They all were able to do this so much better than they did on earlier group projects.  This growth was very refreshing to see because this showed me that they had started to take control and ownership of their work instead of putting it off and hoping to get it done at the last minute.  I can't express how much this makes me proud of this group of students.

The rest of the semester we will focus mainly on an electricity unit in which the students will learn about how electrical circuits work.  We will finish up the year with an astronomy and space science unit.  This has really peaked the interest of my students because we have already planned to take a field trip to UNK as a class where we will go to several physics demonstrations and a planetarium show.  This has been an incredible first year for me and I look forward to many more to come at Lexington High School.

 

David Benge

Physical Science/ Chemistry

Lexington High School

Room 311

 

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