"Eggciting" Vehicles! There Is No Gray Area. You Can't Argue with a Broken Egg
Funkhouser, Curtis, The Technology Teacher
Note: As a TTT-published classroom teacher, Curtis Funkhouser will participate in a session at ITEA's Louisville Conference titled, "Writing for The Technology Teacher."
Make plans to attend this session, scheduled for Friday, March 27th at 3:00pm in room L6 of the Kentucky International Convention Center.
Egg-crash projects are used by educators across the country every school year because students embrace them. Remember the excitement you felt the first time you personally designed and tested a project? The egg-crash project at Mars Middle School provides many students with this experience, all under the proverbial umbrella of the approaching climax of definite success or certain failure. There is no gray area. You can't argue with a broken egg.
For this activity, students work in groups to design a vehicle that will withstand a high-speed frontal impact crash. They are given a strict time frame and budget to follow. To ensure that everyone is safe, we test the vehicles on a guided track with a concrete block at one end. The unit requires students to work in groups and have tasks divided among the individuals. The following are typical group assignments: team leader, secretary (a person to take notes through the engineering design process), treasurer, and a person to sketch/draw. Obviously, these tasks can be adjusted. The instructor plays the role of facilitator and banker to ensure that the groups remain on task and to allow the instructor to provide ideas when roadblocks occur. I use The History Channel's Modern Marvels Series: Car Crashes video to introduce the unit. This is a great hook to pull in the students' interest and get them thinking about why the unit is important. The video shows actual and simulated car crashes conducted by manufacturers who continually research vehicle safety.
Having students purchase materials and holding them accountable for their checking account is an aspect that I incorporate in many projects. I play the role of the banker to whom students must write out checks. I keep a running tally of checking accounts to verify that the groups' balances are correct. Groups cannot return materials once purchased and must maintain a ledger that holds them accountable for their costs.
Journaling is another important aspect of this unit. Journaling is often a process of reflection and provides students with a time to review and improve their projects. Students will usually ask, "Why do I need to write in tech ed?" My response is to ask the class probing questions such as, "Why do you need to write in your language arts classes?" This discussion almost always leads into a time to reflect, and most students recognize the connection between reflection and design evaluation. After further discussion, students begin to see the similarities between technology education and language arts.
This unit naturally blends Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics as the students see firsthand the connection between STEM elements. For example, students will learn how important it is to measure correctly while constructing their vehicles. If a group makes its vehicle too small, it won't fit into the design parameters and therefore it cannot be tested.
Another example of integration would be the application of technology with science to reduce the effects of inertia on the crash vehicles. The students need to design a bumper and restraint system to lessen the impact of the crash. The students are not permitted to create a braking device to slow the vehicle down. Mass, gravity, inertia, friction, and energy are all science principles incorporated in this activity.
The theory behind integrating curriculum is to guide students into making the natural connections between different curricula. Having students apply the skills and objectives from different classes on a common project aids in their learning by helping them make natural connections. Making connections is a skill needed in life that allows a student to become an effective citizen in our society--where life is not laid out in curricula tracks.
Student grouping is another aspect that needs to be quickly addressed. According to Marzano, Pickering, and Pollock, 2001, students can be grouped according to interest, according to their birthday month, according to the colors they are wearing, alphabetically, or even randomly by picking names from a hat. To maximize students' experiences, it is probably a good idea to use a variety of criteria as well as to adhere to the tenets of cooperative learning in order to make the experience successful.
I usually group my students in pairs, as I have found this grouping to be the most conducive to learning. However, this can easily be altered depending upon grade level. For example, if I had high school students completing this activity, I would probably set this as both a paired and individual activity where they research in pairs and complete the paperwork together, and then construct the vehicles individually.
The vehicles are tested on a homemade track that was built by my student teacher Tim Kamnikar as part of his lab improvement requirement. It took approximately one school day to design, build, redesign, and reconstruct the track. The track dimensions are as follows: 53" (L) x 13" (W) x 5" (H). Below is a picture of the testing track:
The intent was to have this track placed on a lab table for ease of use. A concrete block at the end of the track simulates the wall that the actual test cars slam into. It is imperative that when testing, students wear safety glasses and stand at the start of the track. The vehicle is then placed in front of a testing block, which is attached to a bungee cord under the track. The vehicle is then pulled back and released. After each race the egg must be inspected.
I have broken down the unit into two sections for teacher and student navigability. The first section provides the teacher with background information, state and national standards, objectives/goals, MST integration, assessment methods, extended-learning activities, key terms, and resources. The second section is geared toward the student, providing a brief overview of the unit, description of the activities, background information, and assessment methods. All the worksheets and activities provide for authentic learning opportunities. These sections provide thorough information and a step-by-step format by which the teacher may implement the unit.
Overall, this unit provides an encompassing activity that allows students to hone their problem-solving and critical-thinking skills while experiencing the integration of STEM. Money management, journaling, and grouping are all integral parts of the unit, preparing students for real-life financial, reporting, and social experiences. Science and technology are applied through the Engineering Design Process. This unit can prove to be valuable to any of the three STEM curricular areas as teachers of STEM incorporate this unit into their classrooms. As teachers training kids for their futures, we must prepare our students for the working world.
The students will:
1. Learn how to apply money-management skills.
2. Practice and enhance measurement skills.
3. Practice graphing techniques to evaluate the effectiveness of the vehicles.
4. Study the effects of gravity on materials.
5. Apply the concepts of Newton's laws of motion in design.
6. Recognize the similarities and differences between potential and kinetic energy.
7. Interpret inertia and friction forces for the vehicle.
8. Construct a vehicle to test their design.
9. Work collaboratively with a partner.
10. Analyze various resources to enhance the design of their vehicle.
11. Apply various materials to the construction of their vehicle.
12. Recognize and apply the engineering design process.
The following is a suggested guide for implementing the unit (please note that it may be altered).
Day 1: Introduction, concept review, timeline, rubric/grading.
Day 2: Assign groups and review design brief. Brainstorm ideas and make sketches.
Day 3: Obtain prototype materials. Review appropriate construction methods.
Days 4-5: Construct prototype.
Days 6-7: Test prototype.
Days 8-10: Obtain final vehicle materials and begin to construct final design.
Days 11-13: Test final design.
Days 14-15: Complete calculations and worksheets.
Day 16: Complete self-evaluation/submit for grading.
** Check accuracy/ledger
** Engineering Design Process
** Science Principles
** Egg Crash-Test Vehicle Effectiveness
Alignment with Standards
1. Understand numbers, ways of representing numbers, relationships among numbers, and number systems.
2. Understand meanings of operations and how they relate to one another.
3. Compute fluently and make reasonable estimates.
4. Understand measurable attributes of objects and the units, systems, and processes of measurement.
5. Apply appropriate techniques, tools, and formulas to determine measurements.
6. Formulate questions that can be addressed with data and collect, organize, and display relevant data to answer them.
7. Develop and evaluate inferences and predictions that are based on data.
8. Apply and adapt a variety of appropriate strategies to solve problems.
1. Understand the properties and changes of properties in matter, motions and forces, and transfer of energy.
2. Understand the abilities of technological design; understanding about science and technology.
3. Understand the systems, order, and organization; evidence, models, and explanations; consistency, change, and measurement.
1. Develop an understanding of the relationships among technologies and the connections between technology and other fields of study.
2. Develop an understanding of the role of society in the development and use of technology.
3. Develop an understanding of the attributes of design.
4. Develop an understanding of engineering design.
5. Develop an understanding of the role of troubleshooting, research and development, invention and innovation, and experimentation in problem solving.
6. Develop the abilities to apply the design process.
7. Develop an understanding of and be able to select and use transportation technologies.
English Language Arts
1. Use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
2. Participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
STEM Connections--Process of Integration
STEM concepts are easily integrated into the egg crash-test vehicle unit. Students will practice each of the listed concepts through various formats, but will be able to see a genuine connection in each of the disciplines.
* Money Management--I provide students with various materials to build their egg crash-test vehicles by requiring them to "buy" the materials with which they choose to construct their vehicles with.
* Speed Calculation--Students will calculate the speed of their egg crash-test vehicles from various positions of the incline on which the vehicles are tested. The students discover a correlation between the intensity of the crashes and the speed of the vehicle as the pitch of the ramp increases.
* Measurements--As specified on the design brief, students must build their egg crash-test vehicles to the parameters specified. The students will be provided with a checklist so they may monitor the dimensions of their vehicle.
* Graphing/Data Comparison--As a culminating class activity, the students graph the results of the effectiveness of their egg crash-test vehicles and compare data to determine the safety-to-cost ratio.
* Gravity--Students will be able to study the effects of gravity as they learn what causes their vehicles to go downhill when the test ramp is escalated.
* Newton's Laws of Motion--Students will identify and study the laws of motion so that they may create more effective designs.
* Potential and Kinetic Energy--Students will learn the basic concepts of potential and kinetic energy as they observe the characteristics of their vehicles on the test ramp.
* Inertia and Friction--Students will study the concepts of inertia and friction to identify points on their vehicle where these factors will affect their designs.
* Tools--Students will use common tools available in the technology lab to process the materials needed to create their egg crash-test vehicles.
* Resources--Students will study and analyze the various resources needed to create their egg crash-test vehicles. The resources used to make the vehicles will be related and compared to the resources needed to make vehicles in the auto industry.
* Materials--Students will be able to explore various techniques to process materials to create their egg crash-test vehicles. Students will identify material characteristics and tools needed to process materials effectively.
* Engineering Design Process--As students build their vehicles, they will utilize the Engineering Design Process. The steps of the Engineering Design Process can be used interchangeably in a non-linear sequence:
1. Identify the Challenge
2. Brainstorm Ideas
3. Plan and Develop
4. Test and Evaluate
5. Present the Solution
Enrichments and/or Extended Learning
A. Have students create a formal presentation for the class specifically noting their thought process and rationale for car designs utilizing the Engineering Design Process.
B. Take a field trip to a car manufacturer.
C. Take a field trip to a packing plant/potato chip factory.
D. Have students complete the Pringles Challenge.
E. Have students study vehicle accidents in a particular area and write a report on how to lessen the accidents.
F. Bring in a guest speaker from emergency services.
G. Invite a guest speaker from the Department of Transportation.
In conclusion, the egg-crash activity is a very exciting project for the students to complete. The activity requires a minimal amount of materials, and the material list can be altered per individual situations or classroom resources. The unit can be easily expanded or reduced based on time availability or desired depth of understanding. It addresses numerous standards for English/language arts, science, mathematics, and technology, all of which employ the teaching of STEM. And finally, it truly encompasses the cross-curricular experience that is technology education.
It should be noted that this was created in a joint effort with my partner, Mr. Matthew Anna, middle school teacher at West Hempfield Middle School, in the Hempfield Area School District. Additionally, publicity regarding this project, article, and pictures were presented in the Mars Area School District's ecommunicator, by Josh Schwoebel, Director of Communications. Finally, I owe a great thanks to Mr. Gregory Wilson, Mars Middle School eighth grade language arts instructor for the numerous revisions.
This is a refereed article.
Design Brief: Your company has been selected to design a crash car to withstand a high-speed frontal impact and has decided to group the design engineers together to create a prototype. Your group will have 2-4 members, and each engineer will have two responsibilities:
1. Actively discuss a solution to the problem.
2. Complete an assigned job within the group: recorder, team leader, presenter, and/or sketcher.
Keep in mind that if your group has the winning design, your company will receive a five-year contract with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which has an award floor of one million dollars and no award ceiling. Your company is one of four that can do this type of testing. There is one major problem, however. Your company is bankrupt. Nonetheless, your company has a great track record for securing grants of this nature.
* Three sheets of 8.5" x 11" construction paper
* Elmer's glue
* One rubber band (generally used as a seat belt)
* Wheels (4) and axles (2)
* Car Length: 8"-12"
* Car Width: 2"-4"
* Car Height: 1"-5"
* The egg should be no more than 1" away from the center of the car.
Bumpers, roll-bars, air bags, crush zones, break-away parts, laminations, form-fitting seats, seat belts.
Brakes of any type (planned or unplanned), parachutes, air scoops, foreign objects such as cotton stuffing or tissues, extra wheels, wings, crumpled paper (all parts of the car should be folded or taped).
Keys to Success:
* Don't worry what your car looks like. This is not a competition for aesthetics.
* A good seat with a seatbelt for the egg.
* A rigid passenger area in which the seat is anchored.
* Some type of crush zone in the front of the car.
1. Where is the best place for the egg to be positioned? (Think about recoil and ejection.)
2. What are the best overall dimensions for the crash car and why?
3. How big should the crash zone be? Should there be any materials inside? Remember, paper must be folded; it cannot be crumpled up.
4. Is it better to attach tape to the crash zone or to the front of the car?
The car is tested via an inclined plane with guides along the sides to prevent the car from leaving the track. There is a concrete block at the end that the vehicle runs into.
* 20 points (Cars must be capable of being tested)
* Conforms to all specs--5 pts.
* Neat construction, using folding and tabs--5 pts.
* Design that uses 2 or more legal features--5 pts.
* Efficient use of class time--5 pts.
* Unscathed--20 pts.
* Slight dent or crack--15 pts.
* Oozing crack or dent--10 pts.
* Egg ejected from car--5 pts.
* Smashed egg with yolk showing--0 pts.
* Second prototype--10 pts.
* Each additional--5pts.
Note: Additional student worksheets and handouts are available by contacting me at email@example.com.
Author's Note: This unit was designed in my Integrating Math, Science, and Technology class at California University of PA during the fall semester of 2006 with Dr. Glenn Hider.
Anna, Matthew & Funkhouser, Curtis. (2006.) Integrating mathematics, science, and technology: Egg crash-test vehicle. TED 704. Fall 2006, California, PA.
The Discovery Channel. "Car Crashes." Modern Marvels.
Henderson, Tom. (n.d.) The physics classroom. Retrieved 5 March 2008, from www.glenbrook.k12.il.us/gbssci/ phys/Class/newtlaws/newtltoc.html.
"How Stuff Works!" (n.d.) Retrieved 5 March 2008, from www.howstuffworks.com.
"Kinetic Energy." (n.d.) Virtual labratory. 5 March 2008, from http://jersey.uoregon.edu/vlab/KineticEnergy/.
Komacek, Stanley H. (1993.) Transportation activity guide. Uniontown, PA: Author.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (n.d.) Retrieved 5 March 2008, from www.nhtsa.dot.gov/.
University of Tennessee--Knoxville. (n.d.) Newton's Laws of Motion. Retrieved 5 March 2008, from http://csep10. phys.utk.edu/astr161/lect/history/newton31aws.html.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration. (n.d.) Newton's laws of motion. Retrieved 5 March 2008. Retrieved from www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/K-12/airplane/ newton.html.
Marzano, Robert J., Pickering, Debra J., & Pollock, Jane E. (2001.) Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Alexandria, VA: ASCD. 89.
Utah State Office of Education. (n.d.). Potential and kinetic energy. Retrieved 5 March 2008, from www.usoe.k12.ut. us/CURR/Science/sciber00/8th/forces/sciber/potkin.htm.
Schwoebel, Josh. (2007.) Crash test. Director of Communications, Mars Area School District's eCommunicator, November 1, 2007.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2005.) Traffic safety facts. U.S. Department of Transportation. Retrieved 7 March 2008, from www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/ pdf/nrd-30/NCSA/TSF2005/810623.pdf.
Teacher's Domain. (n.d.) What is the design process? Retrieved 5 March 2008, from www.teachersdomain.org/ resources/phy03/sci/engin/design/desprocess/index.html.
Curtis Funkhouser has been a technology teacher at Mars Middle School, Mars, PA for eight years. Mars, PA is located north of Pittsburgh. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.…
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: "Eggciting" Vehicles! There Is No Gray Area. You Can't Argue with a Broken Egg. Contributors: Funkhouser, Curtis - Author. Journal title: The Technology Teacher. Volume: 68. Issue: 6 Publication date: March 2009. Page number: 5+. © 2009 International Technology Education Association. COPYRIGHT 2009 Gale Group.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.