Physics & Physical Science Demos, Labs, & Projects for High School Teachers

Momentum 2.0 – The Egg Crash

Posted on: February 6, 2011

First, let me be completely up front.  I borrowed this activity from my pal Deborah Carder.  You can find her link in my blogroll, she does great hands-on activities and labs.  I met her at NSTA Philly last year, she is the Energizer Bunny of science teachers, I don’t know how she does it.

Anyway, as I had mentioned in earlier posts on momentum, I wanted to do the egg drop competition, but I’m in a one-story building.  This year we are doing the “Egg Crash” competition.  The basic concept is that teams get 10 sheets of computer paper, 1 meter of masking tape, a pair of scissors, and 20 minutes to construct a free-standing object to safely catch the egg.  They drop their own egg from a height starting at 0.5 meters above the top of their structure.  The egg is inspected before and after each drop, the higher they go, the more points they win.  The surviving eggs are dropped from 0.5 meters higher each round until they all finally break.

I usually allot 25 points for a lab, I will probably go 50 for this one.  Deb said she does 100 points, but that’s a test grade and I don’t think a one-day lab should be worth that much.  I’m still working out the scoring, but I think I will assign a grade to each height.  If they fail at 0.5 m above their structure, they get 30/50, but they also get a single start-over with a new egg.  Each 0.5 m interval earns 5 more points.  That means surviving 2.0 m earns 50/50.  I’m willing to give 5 or 10 extra credit points if they can survive a drop from 2.5 or 3.o meters over the top.  I was going to do direct competition for the points, but what if everyone fails at 1.0 meters?  With my grading system, they all get 70% since nobody really earned the A or B.

I handed out the Egg Crash Description and Rules on the day we started learning about Momentum.  I told them it will be about a week before we do the competition; I wanted them thinking about the problem and their design as we learn about momentum and impulse.  This week I will show a great video called “Car Crash Tech.”  The video discusses the state of the art auto safety systems and the effects of air bags and other innovations.

I’m hoping for some creative solutions from the kids.  Maybe I’ll have a picture or two to post here in a couple of weeks.


9 Responses to "Momentum 2.0 – The Egg Crash"

I just did the same lab with my kids today. It was fantastic! I gave them a set of questions on momentum and impulse and then gave a bonus point to those who survived a fall of 2m or more.

I haven’t done it yet. I was going to do it in two days, but it’s pushed off until next week. Do you have any tips or suggestions to give us?

Hi Scott,

This is a fun activity that I also do with my students. I have a handout which asks students to specifically address the physics involved (qualitatively) and engages them in a bit of engineering/design thinking. I hope you find it helpful:

You’ll see a list of standards in bold at the end of the handout. Students are graded based on how well their report demonstrates their mastery of those standards. I do not give extra credit or a grade based on how well the device performs. Not surprisingly, the students still build their catcher and still get into heated competition, even without a grade as a “motivator.” (In fact, I would argue that students are more likely to be creative and take risks with their designs when they are not graded on the outcome of the competition.)

Where do the standards come from? Our standards in PA are very loose and general. In fact, there is a single bullet in the 12th grade physics standard for momentum, it reads:

“Describe inertia, motion, equilibrium, and action/reaction concepts through words, models and mathematical symbols.”

That’s it. There are two bullets containing circular motion and rotational inertia.


The standards are my own. I have compiled them from NY state science standards, AP physics standards, the College Board science standards, etc. You can see examples of my standards and how I created them here:

If you are interested in learning more about Standards-Based Grading, I have a collection of links here:

Hope these help,

I used this for my Physics 30s (Alberta Canada Curriculum) with the addition of some calculation type questions. It was a great way to help students visualize what was happening. I loved it and plan to use it again. I’m also going to use it with my Science 20s for the physics unit, with some simplifications. Thank you!!


I think this is great. Do you have a set of questions and analysis that has the students think about physics after the egg crash experiment? I would love to try this in my classroom.

After the fun, they have to write an analysis of what happened and why. This year they will get a word bank and every word needs to be correctly used in the write-up. It will include momentum, inertia, force, velocity, gravity, acceleration, free fall, and any others I can throw in.

Thank you so much for this idea and the handouts, Scott and Frank! I will be doing this with my students on Monday; I will let you know how it goes. My plan is for the students to write their reports as if they were writing a letter home to their parents/siblings/etc. so I can make it a bit more relatable.

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