Activity At A Glance
Space Capsules: The Egg-stronaut Egg Drop
To introduce the factors that engineers must consider when designing a space capsule and to design a capsule model that protects a raw egg by taking those factors into account
Children brainstorm the factors affecting the speed at which a space capsule reaches the surface of a planet or moon and suggest how engineers might deal with each factor. They create a plan for a capsule that will protect an egg that is dropped from a height. Once their designs are complete and approved, they build their capsule from the materials provided. If time allows, they test this model and refine it. Once all models are finalized, each capsule is dropped from a high point. The group records the results of each drop and discusses the strengths and weaknesses of each kind of design. The session ends by considering one or more thought questions.
- All objects exert a gravitational force, and the greater an object's mass, the greater its gravitational force.
- As an object falls toward a planet or moon, gravity pulls it, causing it to accelerate until it impacts the surface.
- An object falling through an atmosphere hits air particles. These collisions interfere with its ability to accelerate, slowing the object. The collisions also produce friction, creating heat.
- Space capsules use a variety of methods to land safely on a surface, including parachutes, jet rockets, air-bag cushions, and wings.
Children ages 8–13
- Chalkboard, dry erase board, easel or large piece of paper, with chalk or markers
- Raw Eggs
- Hard-boiled eggs (or plastic eggs)
- Paper, Pencils, Markers, crayons
- Construction materials, such as: straws, cardboard, packing material, Styrofoam, meat trays, egg cartons, string, rulers, paper towels, garbage bags, cotton, toothpicks, Dixie cups, sandwich bags, ziploc bags, cloth, etc.
- Drop Cloth
- Ladder (or balcony)
- Paper Towels
- Weighing scale (optional)
Correlations To National Science Standards
Physical Science — Content Standard B
Motions and Forces
- If more than one force acts on an object along a straight line, then the forces will reinforce or cancel one another, depending on their direction and magnitude. Unbalanced forces will cause changes in the speed or direction of an object's motion.
Transfer of Energy
- Heat moves in predictable ways, flowing from warmer objects to cooler ones until both reach the same temperature.
Science and Technology — Content Standard E
Identify appropriate problems for technological design
Design a solution
Implement a proposed design
Evaluate completed technological designs
Communicate the process of design
Understandings about science and technology
- Science and technology are reciprocal. Science helps drive technology as it addresses questions that demand more sophisticated instruments and provides principles for better instrumentation and techniques
- Perfectly designed solutions do not exist. All solutions have trade-offs such as safety, cost, efficiency, and appearance.
- Technological designs have constraints. Some are unavoidable such as properties of materials.
- Technological solutions have intended benefits and unintended consequences.
February 22, 2005