DECATUR – If you remember last week, a group of intrepid young scientists and engineers from Decatur colleges wrestled with the principles of deceleration using the simple egg as a test subject.
Next, high school students had the chance to test their designs during Egg Dropping 2, which was part of the Decatur Summer School Program at Peterson Gym in Decatur on June 23.
This time, the older students climbed the bleachers at Bulldog Stadium to use the side of the press box as a testing ground. Instead of the 10-foot-high filming platform inside the Peterson Gym that the college used to launch nine different models, the high school had a 30-foot drop for their experiment, including a landing point. much softer, grassy training ground below.
Climbing high above the bleachers was the first design built by Jasmine Herrera. Herrera’s capsule consisted of two 16-ounce foam coffee mugs filled with cotton balls to protect a pair of eggs. The outside was also covered with cotton balls. His device was fitted with a pair of plastic bags attached to each end of the capsule.
When Herrera took out his device, the bags fully deployed and the eggs slowly drifted to the ground, landing in the soft grass. It took her five minutes to open the capsule and, to everyone’s delight, the eggs survived unscathed, the first successful landing of the day.
Then Jesus Echeverria, whose design was similar to that of Herrera, with the same positive results.
Tatiana Trejo dabbled in a launch with a simple design. His idea was to use fillers inside the double foam capsule. Trejo’s release was normal, but since she did not have a parachute or other device to slow the descent, the capsule hit the ground hard, resulting in the first failure of the event and two cups full of scrambled eggs. .
Anne Xiong tried out her design, which included a capsule similar to that of Herrera and Echeverria, but differed in a major way. Xiong constructed the exterior with cotton balls which gave it a round appearance similar to the balloons used by NASA to land the Opportunity and Spirit Mars rovers. These spacecraft bounced off the ground when the landing pad hit, like a rubber ball, until the landing pad containing the rovers came to a stop. The balloons deflated and the two Martian rovers took off from the platforms and made history books.
Xiong dropped his device and, indeed, it hit the ground and bounced twice before stopping. Upon closer inspection, the contents inside revealed that she too had a pair of intact eggs for the third success.
Norman Thompson was the last young designer to climb the drop platform. Its design was the most elaborate of the five. Thompson’s capsule contained more padding, but it was his deceleration design that was most unique. Like Herrera and Echeverria, Thompson used a pair of shopping bags as parachutes with added functionality. He attached a pair of helium-filled balloons to the device. When he dropped his capsule, the aircraft not only slowed down for a smooth descent, but flew the farthest of the five models.
Thompson opened his foam capsule only to find that he also had a pair of intact eggs, for a total of four successes and one failure.
The success of this exercise, designed to show what happens to the body in the face of sudden decelerating forces, reflects the intellectual effort, as well as the dedication, that each of these five young Decatur students put into this project. Perhaps these students will become the next generation of NASA aeronautical scientists and engineers ready to lead our country on a quest to the Moon, Mars and beyond.
Mike Eckels can be reached by email at [email protected]