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Firefighters assist Madison elementary with egg-drop experiment

Capt. Russ Kennington and Station 2 Firefighters Brandy Williams and Ron Hopkins brought a ladder truck to Madison Elementary School for the sixth-graders' egg-drop experiments. (CONTRIBUTED)
Capt. Russ Kennington and Station 2 Firefighters Brandy Williams and Ron Hopkins brought a ladder truck to Madison Elementary School for the sixth-graders’ egg-drop experiments. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – Madison Elementary School students applied engineering designs to safely drop an egg from Madison Fire and Rescue Department’s ladder truck.

Teachers organized this exercise for 38 students who didn’t attend space camp. “We wanted those students to experience an engineering design process of ask, imagine, plan, create and improve to develop” egg-drop vehicles, sixth-grade teacher Bonnie Howard said.

Working in pairs, students “determined the problem (ask) of protecting the egg from the drop,” Howard said. Partners brainstormed (imagine) and merged their independent ideas (plan). They used donated materials, including toilet paper rolls, tape, balloons, plastic bags, shoeboxes, egg containers and string (create).

Each egg-drop vehicle was different. Howard said their conversations were interesting about which materials to fit their design. “Students practiced 21st-century skills, such as creativity, critical thinking and communication.”

Capt. Russ Kennington served as fire department liaison. Station 2 Firefighters Brandy Williams and Ron Hopkins brought the ladder truck on May 14 and “were very generous with their time as each group tested their egg-drop vehicles,” Howard said.

Williams stayed on the ladder while Hopkins raised and lowered it 40 feet for the drops. “Excitement was palpable,” Howard said. “You could almost hear the kids holding their breaths and then squeal with delight as each egg drop vehicle made its way down.”

From 14 drops, only three were “failures,” she said. Vehicles with plastic-bag parachutes or balloons were most successful. Ones packed compactly often failed.

Students were as excited, maybe more so, about broken eggs. One student told Howard, “In science we learn more from our mistakes than the things that go right.”

“That’s very true,” Howard said.

Students wrote personal thank-you notes to firefighters. Most wrote that “the experience was more interesting because of the fire department’s participation,” Howard said.

“Firefighters Brandy Williams and Ron Hopkins went above and beyond any expectations and shared fire truck and safety information with our Learning Academy students,” Howard said. “Madison Fire Department made our egg drop design challenge a major success. We’re so thankful for their participation.”

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