Xcel Energy serviceman Kevin Victor drops an egg carrier from 20 feet as part of the RISD fifth-grade gifted program’s Egg Drop, Tuesday. (Amy Vogelsang Photo)
Balloons, duct tape and paper bags don’t usually work together, but in this case it was a matter of life and death. Well, for a few dozen eggs, that is.
In an annual tradition for gifted fifth-graders, the Egg Drop allowed them to use collaboration skills, creativity and engineering at Yucca Recreational Center Tuesday.
Starting with sketches, roughly 60 students from all of the Roswell Independent School District elementary schools worked in small groups to come up with designs of ways to drop an egg from 20, 25 and 33 feet without it breaking. All they had were the materials provided, most of which were basic household office supplies such as tape, paper bags, balloon-animal balloons and newspaper. With these materials, the kids created small fortresses to hold an egg.
Once constructed it was time for the moment of truth: Whose egg would survive the freefall?
For the first drop, only five of the 15 groups passed without cracking their eggs. But as they made their way back into the auditorium to construct a stronghold for Round 2, they were already discussing new ideas for improvement.
“They were asking, ‘What can we do now?’ and can’t hardly wait to try their new ideas,” said Melody Sandy, the teacher of gifted students at East Grand Plains Elementary. She also explained that the first drop is always a trial, but “after the first drop, they start working as a team.”
And the teamwork opportunity is a big part of the learning experience. Being with students from different schools allowed the students to meet new people while also forcing them to work in a group, not usually something gifted students do often, teacher of gifted students at Valley View Elementary, Margaret Bohlin, said.
“They all want to be leaders, all want to delegate,” she explained. “But they are excited, which is what learning should be.”
Naomi Brazil, teacher of the gifted at Sunset Elementary, also commented that cooperation was one element needed to successfully complete the Egg Drop project.
“They have to collaborate,” she said. “They have to draw the design, use expressive language to get ideas across and then it is engineering (…) using evidence from the previous (drop).”
It’s clearly more than just working together and dropping eggs. The Egg Drop gave students a chance to experience engineering and physics, something particularly useful to those who may go into the fields, explained Sarah Jordan, teacher of the gifted at Berrendo Elementary. Her favorite part though, is “seeing (the kids’) ideas in action.”
Brazil also loves seeing the kids really challenge themselves to problem solve.
“They have to kick in with their analytical thinking,” she said. “They have to analyze, have to design (…) and they kick in the critical thinking to find what worked and what didn’t. They have to do it for themselves – no one else can do it for them.”
The kids also enjoyed the learning experience, although some simply liked the concept of a falling egg, such as Preston McCreary who said his “favorite part was dropping stuff.” Perfectly reasonable.
But the students were motivated and enjoyed the chance to problem solve and construct egg holders.
“I like working as a team and thinking out ways to do things,” Xandria Lindsey said. “It’s actually a lot of thinking.” She and McCreary, along with Jesus Merino and Joel Renteria, were in Group F, one of the few groups whose egg survived Round 1.
Overall, the kids enjoyed constructing something with their hands, and teachers enjoyed watching the students’ creativity come alive.
“(The best part) is seeing the kids really collaborate,” Bohlin said, “seeing their eyes as ideas start flying.”