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Lightly landing an egg on Planet Earth

Posted: Tuesday, March 15, 2005

 

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  Haiti Hoeldt of Sterling, Raissa Kalugin from Voznisenka and Carly Lund of Sterling prepare to test their egg landing craft at the Challenger Learning Center.

Haiti Hoeldt of Sterling, Raissa Kalugin from Voznisenka and Carly Lund of Sterling prepare to test their egg landing craft at the Challenger Learning Center.

No one was thinking about coloring or hunting for eggs last week at the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska, but rather how to drop a raw egg from some 90 feet above the ground and have it return to earth un-scrambled. It was the idea of 6th grade Sterling Elementary School teacher Allen Miller who has been nominated for the NASA educator astronaut program. Sixth graders from Sterling Elementary School teamed up with their counterparts from Voznisenka Elementary to take up the challenge. "The Egg Landers were to simulate the successful NASA Mars landing of the Mars rovers. So the students had to create something using only a few simple materials that would protect the landing of an egg from 40, 60, 90 feet above the ground and see what would happen," explained Tamra Wear, lead flight director at the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska.

 

Kenai firemen release the egg landing craft from 60ft above the Challenger Learning Center.

The Center teamed up with the Kenai Fire Department to make the experiment happen last Wednesday. The students were given only an hour to make their landing craft utilizing materials such as paper plates, balloons and plastic bags to act as parachutes. How to utilize the basic materials to land an egg from that height was entirely left to the creativity and imagination of the students. "This is a great science inquiry project where we give the students a goal and they have to problem solve and create a solution that they think will work and if it doesn't it's still a great learning experience for the next time they attempt a challenge or similar activity," added Wear.

 

Sterling Elementary teacher Allen Miller records the elapsed time of the drop and weight of the craft.

According to Allan Miller, out of the 17 Egg Landers designed, 12 returned their egg to earth without a crack. "I was surprised at the success ratio, especially seeing the kids work as teams with other students they had met for the first time from Voznisenka at the Challenger Center, it showed a lot of creative thinking and problem solving," said Miller. As the NASA shuttle program prepares to return to space this spring, Miller is still hopeful that he will be accepted to the astronaut program.



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