Egg Drop Engineering Project Part 4

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SWBAT Identify failure points for their egg drop capsules and make adjustments to their design.

Big Idea

Part of the engineering process is to identify and correct failure points to improve the design. Students will test out a prototype and then make adjustments to it depending on how the capsule performs in the drop test.

Lesson Overview- 5 E Lesson Plan

5 minutes

Unit 3: Gravity

Lesson 9: Egg Drop Engineering Project- Part 4. Determining what worked and didn't work and re-designing if necessary.

5E Lesson Planning:

I plan most of my science lessons using the BSCS 5E Lesson Model: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate.For a quick overview of the model, take a look at this video.

I use this lesson model because it peaks the students' interest in the beginning during the "Engage" portion and allows for the students to actively participate in the investigations throughout the subsequent steps. The “Evaluate” component of the 5E Lesson Model can be used in many ways by the teacher and by the students.

A great resource for lesson plan frameworks and explanations is the Community Resources for Science. The 5E Planning Template and 5E Lesson Prompts come from this website. 

Unit Overview:

In this Unit students will conduct some investigations about gravity. They will learn about how the planets stay in orbit around the Sun and will re-create Galileo’s pendulum experiments. They will also learn about Sir Isaac Newton’s work and his Laws of Motion as they relate to the idea of gravity.

Lesson Overview:

In this lesson, the students will be checking for failure points in their designs (if needed) and will work on re-designing their capsules as well as re-testing them.

Materials Needed:

For the drop site:

  • large trash bags taped to the ground
  • utility tape that can mark the target
  • a tall ladder
  • an adult who isn't afraid of heights to complete the drops 
  • cleaning materials for the aftermath
  • data collection sheets for the student groups to write observations and record any failure points (one copy per group)


Materials for capsules per group (already on hand or being used):

  • 1 raw egg (buy extras as inevitably some get broken before testing)
  • tape, 2 feet; more tape makes the activity easier and less tape makes it more difficult so scale as you like
  • white glue, such as Elmer's Glue
  • 1 measuring device, such as a ruler, yardstick or tape measure
  • 10 sheets of paper, such as 8.5" x 11 copy paper, but any kind will do
  • 10 pipecleaners
  • 15 cottonballs
  • 3 wide rubberbands
  • 10 Popsicle sticks
  • yarn, 6 feet
  • Have the students bring any other materials that they think would be helpful with their design (cardboard tubes, straws, sponges, cardboard, styrofoam, and anything non-perishable that they think would work).
  • plastic eggs for the practice drops


Next Generation Science Standards:

The NGSS standards that will be covered in this unit/ lesson are:

5-PS2-1. Support an argument that the gravitational force exerted by Earth on objects is directed down.

Disciplinary Core Ideas:  This lesson aligns to the Disciplinary Core Idea of

PS2.B: Types of Interactions  The gravitational force of Earth acting on an object near Earth’s surface pulls that object toward the planet’s center. (5-PS2-1)

Crosscutting Concepts:

Cause and Effect:  Cause and effect relationships are routinely identified and used to explain change. (5-PS2-1)

Science & Engineering Practices:

Engaging in Argument from Evidence

Engaging in argument from evidence in 3–5 builds on K– 2 experiences and progresses to critiquing the scientific explanations or solutions proposed by peers by citing relevant evidence about the natural and designed world(s).  Support an argument with evidence, data, or a model. (5PS2-1)




30 minutes

I show the video footage of the egg drop contest Egg Drop video footageEgg drop video footage #2, andEgg drop video footage #3 (these are longer clips and recorded by students- there were over 20 different clips, so these are just a sample) and have the students record observations for failure points from their own and others' capsules. I give them a Egg drop evaluation recording sheet to each group and tell the students to take notes for each capsule. I ask them to write a sentence about what they thought the best part of the design is and a sentence about what part of the design the group needs to improve. I show them the following graphic and explain that we are now in the "evaluation" and "Improve: Redesign as needed" portions of the design process.




30 minutes

I ask the different groups to answer the following questions about their egg capsule:

1 - Describe how your device protected the egg from cracking.  What material was most important in your design?  What material that you used was least effective?  What design features did you implement to help your egg survive? 

2 - Knowing what you know now, how would you improve upon your design to make it work better on the next try?  Draw a picture if it helps!

3 - What material would you use in another design that you did not use today, and WHY? It can be a material that was not offered and if you could change 1 feature of your design, what would it be and why?

Even if there were no failure points to their design, I still want the groups to talk about other materials they could have used or different designs they could have made. (We talk about the different variables that could be changed on their capsule). I tell the students to answer these questions together and to write their answers on a piece of paper to include with their other egg drop materials (they have keeping folders with their notes and sketches) Here is a  Student Egg drop evaluationa second student's evaluationanother student's reflection, and a final student reflection on the egg drop project

I also use an Egg Drop Group work Rubric to do a group assessment. I have the groups assess their ability to work together and be a team  and I have each student do an independent reflection about the project.

I encourage the students to look at their original design and start by changing 1 feature that was a possible failure point and do some test drops again with the plastic egg. I tell them to continue to adjust and try out their changes but to make sure to just make small changes. I also want them to think about the other capsules made by the class and what design features they like and could incorporate into their own capsule.  I tell the groups to make sure to draw and explain their changes on another page and to explain how their changes will improve the outcome of the egg drop.

We take the newly designed capsules outside to the drop zone again and follow the same procedures from Part 3 of the investigation. 

There may be capsules that fail again and that's OK. I explain to the students that this is how engineers and scientists work most of the time- they keep trying different things or changing different variables to get to a better result.