Welcome back from break!

As my husband (French teacher) and I sit at Starbucks in front of our respective computers, I can almost feel our brains overheating as they adjust to suddenly being used rather aggressively for the first time in a few weeks.  This isn't to say we haven't been thinking lately...the thinking has just been quite different.  Most recently, our thoughts have been dominated by the needs and desires of our kids (our son is 6 and our daughter is 3) as we navigated the rather complicated waters of the holiday season.  But anyway, we are in Starbucks for a few hours with the kids happily occupied with their grandparents and I'm thinking ahead to the next few weeks of physics class.  Even though I will miss spending significant portions of my day in sweatpants, I would be lying if I didn't confess my building excitement at the prospect of seeing my physics kiddos!

While I love AP® Physics and all the rigor and challenge it brings, I have to say I am most excited to tackle the egg drop experiment in my physics course.  Before I describe the awesomeness of this activity in detail, let me give you some background about this particular course.

Physics is predominantly composed of seniors who do not define themselves as math-y or science-y.  Of course, there's a sprinkling of those who genuinely love quantitative analysis, but overall, this course is intended to expose students to physics concepts without the complication of high-level mathematics.  Further, this is a hands-on, whiteboarding-heavy course that follows the modeling approach to teaching with my own modifications, adjustments, and personality mixed in!  I also use my own brand of standards-based grading which I'm confident I will write about soon.  We have just had a midterm covering balanced and unbalanced forces and constant and accelerated motion.  Before we jump into momentum, we are going to do the EGG DROP EXPERIMENT!

This is no elementary school drop, in which you pop an egg into a pillow, chuck it out the window, and call it a day!  We are MUCH more sophisticated :)  Here are the details (written to the students).

Physics beginning the egg drop project


To build a device attached to your egg to protect it from any damage whatsoever during one fall from the CT balcony (6m high).  Further, each person should strive to achieve the fastest drop time.  In other words, no designs shall include the use of air resistance.

Phases of the process:

  1. Using force and motion skills, analyze a sample drop.  What is the poor little egg going to feel?
  2. Sketch out two completely different designs (a little engineering design process in there!)
  3. Build + prototype (a little more engineering design!)
  4. Final drop
  5. Reflect + analyze


  1. Your device must only be constructed with toothpicks, straws, rubber bands and hot glue. You do not need to use all of these items, but these are the only ones allowed.  These will be provided to you.
  2. The egg must be fresh from the carton and not altered chemically, frozen, or boiled.  The egg will be wrapped in saran wrap by me before I give it to you to prevent a mess during the drop.
  3. The total mass of your design (not including the egg) should be a maximum of 35 grams. In other words, if your egg has a mass of 60 grams, your device + egg must have mass of less than or equal to 95 grams.  You must determine the mass of your egg before you start building your device AND keep track of it!

So what do you think?  Can they do it?  Typically, the success rate is around 30% to 40%.  It wouldn't be fun if it isn't hard, right?  I can't wait to see how it goes!!!  Check out this post for the next installment!

Want to see the details of this work?  Check out the egg drop packet!


  1. This is so impressive. I love the idea of meaningful project-based-learning activities, but I am intimidated by the time they may take (for prep and execution). How did you get started on this?

    1. Thank you for your comment! I absolutely agree that the time required can be intimidating. I didn't dive into teaching with all of these projects ready to go. I began with teacher-directed investigations like the ones I had as a student. Then as each of my teaching years pass, I push myself to incorporate incremental (and sometimes dramatic) changes to increase student ownership and investment. I will continue to do so for many years to come. The best part is watching the kids really come to life during these activities. It makes all the effort worth it!


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