LITTLE CURRENT—Eggs and floors: The centuries-old rivalry that usually ends in the same result—a victory for the unmoving, hard floor as it gets covered in the splatter of a cataclysmic ‘eggsplosion.’
Grade 4 and 5 students at Little Current Public School (LCPS) were not about to resign themselves to the patterns of history—they were determined to keep their eggs safe through a six-foot drop. They worked in groups of three to four students to design a contraption that would cushion the fall.
Their limited tools to protect the eggs were contained within a paper bag: Two pipe cleaners, a napkin, a paper cup, two popsicle sticks, a Styrofoam plate, two feathers, a few cotton balls, a rubber band and some string. Later, the groups received an armspan’s length of masking tape as a bonus material.
This was not just an opportunity to cause mayhem and a mess. There were important science lessons contained within, courtesy of Cambrian College’s Let’s Talk Science (LTS) program.
“Let’s Talk Science is a national non-profit. It runs out of colleges and universities across the country. The goal is to introduce children to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) in fun and engaging ways, in the hopes it’ll encourage them to pursue careers in STEM fields,” said Stacey Lavallie, LTS co-ordinator at Cambrian College. She and fellow co-ordinator Shannon Drysdale facilitated the Little Current event which included over 60 students. They also bring their activities to places such as community groups, libraries, Guides and Scouts.
“We teach a science lesson and then conduct a fun activity, experiment or challenge of some sort,” said Ms. Lavallie. The egg drop experiment connected with lessons about gravity and resistant forces, such as why certain objects fall slower than others even though gravity pulls on them equally.
LCPS vice principal Shelley Tamura said Ms. Lavallie contacted her to express her interest in bringing LTS back to the school after a previous visit that was a success.
“We were excited to have them back,” said Ms. Tamura. “You see the kids so excited for science. They’re a keen group.”
There was excitement in the air as Ms. Lavallie began her science lesson in the gym. Several hands shot into the air after each question, eager to take a shot at providing the right answer.
Ms. Lavallie said science was not as engaging or interesting when she was in school.
“What really drew this job to me was the ability to make science fun in a way it wasn’t fun for me. When I was in high school, science was dreary and boring. In chemistry, we never did a single experiment. It was just no fun,” she said.
Now, the social service worker student has begun to travel as far as Timmins, Manitoulin Island and North Bay between her studies. Cambrian’s program serves roughly 1,000 students per year.
“We usually don’t have the time to go to farther places,” said Ms. Lavallie. “Every Wednesday this month has been for distance trips, because Shannon and I both have Wednesdays off.” That lets them spend full days in places like Manitoulin, something that would not be possible without a free day.
“It’s great to have groups willing to come see us on the Island,” said Ms. Tamura.
Cambrian’s LTS group had spent that morning in Assiginack running a buoyancy boat challenge. Next week, they will be at Central Manitoulin Public School. The group hopes to make it to Gore Bay and Wiikwemkoong in the spring.
Ms. Lavallie said the students in Assiginack performed remarkably well in the buoyancy challenge and beat the previous record of 13 weights twice—the first group hit 14 weights and the next one was able to withstand 20 weights, the entire set that LTS brought.
“That just shows how creative kids are,” said Ms. Lavallie. “It’s really cool to see how excited they are to see you because you’re not a teacher, you’re somebody that is going to do something cool.”
Evalena Mainprize, Dominic Jacklin and Lexy Varey were three of the LCPS students that took part in the egg drop experiment as a group.
Their strategy was to use the paper cup as a holder for the egg, first packing the base with cotton balls and the crumpled napkin. The elastic and feathers provided extra padding. They secured the egg in place using the pipe cleaners and some tape. Using the provided string, they fashioned the Styrofoam plate into a parachute that hung above the egg capsule to add a bit of extra drag.
Finally, they crumpled up pieces of the paper bag that held their kit materials and attached the pieces to the outside of the cup along the sides and bottom as an extra shock absorber.
Soon, all the students gathered around a step ladder placed next to a plastic sheet on the gym floor. Teachers made sure they were far enough back from the ‘splash zone’ and Ms. Lavallie asked some questions to see who would go first.
Groups had mixed success, with a few splatters and one victorious group coming before Evalena, Dominic and Lexy’s group. As Ms. Drysdale hoisted the egg capsule to the top of the step ladder, a palpable excitement rang through the air.
The children that were gathered in the semi-circle stared unblinkingly. In unison, they began to scream out a countdown.
Three… Some students leaned in to be as close to the action as they could get. Others tensed up in anticipation of another mess.
Two… It was ‘Lord of the Flies’ in the gym. Impending carnage was front-of-mind as the fragile shell hung over their heads.
One… They wanted ooze.
Ms. Drysdale released her grip and the egg capsule careened towards the gym floor, landing with a substantial thud. Muffled gasps and murmurs rippled through the crowd as Ms. Lavallie stooped to examine the remains.
There was some noticeable wetness on first inspection, but Ms. Lavallie cautioned that it could have likely come from the scattered yolks and whites now littering the drop sheet. As she peeled layer upon layer off the capsule, the materials became drier and drier. Finally, she produced the sight on which this group had breathlessly been waiting: Above her head, she held up a perfectly intact egg.
The only thing better than total egg carnage for the students was the rare chance that a group would actually make a successful capsule. The room immediately erupted into cheers when they saw that this group had beaten the challenge. Evalena, Dominic and Lexy beamed at the front of the room, revelling in this moment of glory until it was time for the next group to try their luck at softening the blow of gravity.
“Today was really good,” said Evalena, fresh off her team’s egg drop victory. “I was so happy everything went well with our egg.” She said she was a bit scared before the drop but was overjoyed when Ms. Lavallie revealed the egg had survived its great fall.
“Yes! I love science,” said Evalena, literally bouncing off her bench in a fit of pure joy as she said those words. “It’s my favourite subject,” she beamed.
As the rest of the groups took their turns at the drop zone, each team began to discover a newfound appreciation of the meaning of science within their lives. Perhaps their ideas from this experiment could one day work to better protect cars in crashes or even bring astronauts home safely from the depths of space.
Many things in nature are borne from eggs. They have acted as some of the most fundamental building blocks on the planet for millennia. In much the same way, this challenge to save an egg from the crush of gravity could serve as the impetus from which an exciting life of solving the world’s greatest mysteries could grow.