How to win an egg-drop contest

Egg drop with finsI participated in one egg-drop contest when I
was in elementary school, lost miserably, and immediately put it
out of my mind.  While gathering hidden
pullet eggs
out of our pasture, though, one slipped through
my fingers and hit the ground, but only cracked instead of
shattering.  That got me thinking that there are probably
outside-the-box solutions to the old egg-drop conundrum (even
though mine — choosing a pullet egg because it has a tougher
shell — is against most contests’ rules).




I started wandering
around the internet in search of the best egg-drop contraption,
but got bogged down in those afore-mentioned rules.  Some
contests don’t let you include parachutes or other forms of
air-resistance, while others forbid modern packing materials like
bubble wrap and styrofoam peanuts.  (If these are legal,
though, they’re great components of a winning design!)  One
forum user recommended adding angled fins (as is shown in the
photo above from
Colorado
University
) to
make your contraption swirl, which will slow things down even
without a parachute.  Another site recommended sponges,
blown-up balloons, or breakfast cereal as untraditional enough
that they might sidestep the packing material ban.




Bungee egg dropAnother way to look at the issue is to
disperse the energy that impacts the egg when it hits the ground
— think of this as a whiplash-prevention device.  The
box-within-a-box design shown here came from the
2004 KMSO Egg
Drop Contest

and used rubber bands between the two structures to dispel that
whiplash energy.  When a contraption like this hits the
ground, the inner box will bounce in relation to the outer box,
but shouldn’t hit anything, and thus the egg doesn’t crack. 
(It might scramble, though….) 




You can use any
stretchy substance in place of the rubber bands, and one simple
alternative is to place the egg in an uninflated balloon (or a
nylon stocking), tie the end of the balloon around a pencil, and
then use the pencil to suspend the egg within a box.  Of
course, you’d have to weigh down the bottom of the box to make
sure your contraption doesn’t land upside-down.




One scientist even
recommended simply placing your egg inside an unbreakable bottle
full of salt water.  The salt helps the egg float while the
water changes the impact force you’d
Best
egg drop designusually get into a pressure distributed all
the way around the egg.  Since the egg is round (the perfect
shape to stand up under pressure), it shouldn’t crack.
 
I haven’t seen any
hands-on attempts to use this method, though, so be sure to try it
out before bringing a salted egg to your contest.




I can’t resist
closing by showing you yet another winning egg-drop entry. 
This one survived a 145-foot drop in the
atlanticbt
Inaugural Egg Drop Contest
.  It looks like a combination of the parachute
and bungee method to me.




Are there excellent
egg-drop methods I’ve missed in this post?  Leave a comment
and share your winning design!



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