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The Egg Drop

June 24, 2009

On Tuesday, I gathered my staff together and gave them the following challenge:

I asked them to drop an egg from the third floor onto concrete and prevent it from breaking.

The guidelines were simple: The egg had to be dropped by me, an impartial party, and it had to land on the concrete. The only tools they had were as follows, and they were to be used to created some sort of structure around the egg to prevent it from breaking:

  • One sheet of 8.5 x 11 paper
  • A small piece of duct tape and a small piece of blue tape
  • Two paper clips
  • A foot of ribbon.
  • A small paper plate
  • A rubber band
  • A business card
  • Two coffee straws

I offer the same challenge to you, dear readers, at least in theory. What would you do with those materials to prevent the egg from breaking? And no, you can’t alter the egg in any way (hardboil it, drain out the fluids, etc.) It’s a normal egg, ready to crack. Prevent it from cracking.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. Bryce permalink
    June 25, 2009 7:15 am

    When did you become a high school physics teacher?

  2. Neeraja permalink
    June 25, 2009 8:31 am

    Uh, who’s going to clean up the broken eggs?

    I bet you’re not exactly motivating the maintenance and housekeeping staffs over at your office, Stegy…

    • June 25, 2009 9:33 am

      Well, when we did this activity, one egg splattered and the other didn’t. So we just hosed off the patio.

      Does no one have any ideas? There actually are a few right answers to this.

  3. T-Mac permalink
    June 25, 2009 1:07 pm

    I’d take the trick question approach from one of your “possibly related posts,” but your last paragraph specifically notes that it’s the egg and not the concrete that you’re trying to prevent from cracking…

    • June 25, 2009 1:37 pm

      Ha ha…nope, not a trick question (WordPress automatically generates those “possibly related posts”). Prevent the egg from cracking.

  4. Nancy permalink
    June 25, 2009 6:40 pm

    I love eggs! The great thing about an egg is that you can cook it so many different ways! You can scramble them, poach them, sunny-side-up them, overeasy them, boil them, devil them….wait, what’s the question?

  5. Neeraja permalink
    June 26, 2009 9:28 am

    You could make a parachute with the piece of paper fitted with the paper plate as a center “air catcher” as the parachute, the rubber band as the harness, the ribbon as the string connecting the parachute to the harness with the two coffee straws as stabalizers to keep the ribbon taught (sp?), and attach with paper clips and tape.

    Oh, and use the business card to give Jamey a mild paper cut for coming up with this challenge.

    (Just kidding, people, violence doesn’t solve anything.)

    • June 26, 2009 11:01 am

      Interesting, very interesting. You’ve figured out the key to this challenge–that it’s more important to reduce the velocity of the fall than it is to protect the egg itself. There is one other way to reduce the velocity that I’ve seen work even better than a parachute…

  6. T-Mac permalink
    June 26, 2009 11:31 am

    Damn your elaborate ruse! I can’t seem to stop thinking that there’s some kind of odd trick, like eating the egg, then jumping out of the window (even though you’ve specifically said there’s no trick). I can’t sleep at night, and I can’t stop thinking about why there’s a period after “ribbon” in your bulleted list, but not after any of the other bullets. I bet that has something to do with it. I’m either onto something or headed for another sleepless night…

    Since we don’t know the answer, let’s have some volunteers for top 5 ways to really smash the %$&^ out of the egg on the concrete.

    Method #1: Strike an accord with recently retired NFL safety Rodney Harrison, who is widely known to be one of the dirtiest players in all of football and is willing to do just about anything for money to resurrect his now sad career. Wait for a Marge Simpson to walk below the window, then drop the egg into her hair, forming a perfect cradle. Instruct Rodney to tackle Marge to the ground head first with reckless abandon, thereby shattering the egg (and perhaps her oddly shaped cartoon head) on the concrete.

    Other ideas?

  7. June 26, 2009 12:56 pm

    Ha ha, great answer (eating the egg and jumping out of the window). Keep in mind that I am the impartial third party who will be dropping the egg. This is solvable, Trev. And that period is a hint at a long-lost symbol that a long-lost civilization left behind that contains the clue to a hidden mystery involving all religions, aliens, and the reason why tape dispensers are filled with sand. You can do this!

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