Staff from the Institute for Academic Development had the chance to demonstrate their engineering know-how (or lack thereof) at KB by attempting to protect an egg from a metal ball-bearing released from a height. The challenge, created by the School of Engineering as part of Innovative Learning Week, said we needed to protect the egg using only a piece of A4 paper, a small amount of balsa wood and some glue. Cue a lot of head-scratching from colleagues, myself included.
After an engaging conversation involving half remembered physical/mathematical formulae we decided to create a ‘pyramidal air cushioned deflection device’ (read: a crudely glued together triangular frame with an inflated origami box on top). After more deep and detailed planning (and getting too much glue on our hands, faces, clothing…) the frame was completed and ready to go.
We arrived at KB eager and in the mood to take part in this ‘egg’citing challenge (brace yourselves, plenty more where that came from), and eing a brave bunch we opted to go first in the drop test. The egg was cushioned safely within our structure – the ball raised to a height of 2.4 meters – with a 3,2,1 countdown from the assembled crowd, the ball-bearing was released.
Did the structure work? …Sort of. Although the egg had a small crack (which is a technical fail) the structure remained solid and it was ready for another attempt. As laypeople, we took heart watching other contestants try their devices; some failed on the first attempt with yolk and egg white being blown spectacularly about the place from the the force of the ball-bearing hammering down at a rate of knots (or Newtons if you know the physicist’s vernacular). With other competitors gracefully bowing out with ‘egg on their faces’, their devices in smithereens, we were lucky enough to attempt another go.
As our first egg received a small crack, we needed to up the ante to match and outstrip our competitors. The stage was set for the second attempt. Set to 2.6 meters the ball-bearing was released, but alas our structure couldn’t hold out. Indeed, it was obliterated, and swept, along with the remains of our egg, into the blue slop bucket.
We were congratulated on our design and overall for the day we came second out of four teams – go team IAD! It was great fun to take part and we had a ‘smashing’ time.
– Doug Richards, Institute for Academic Development
The second bout of Egg Protection takes place on Thursday of ILW, at 2pm in the foyer of the Alexander Graham Bell building, KB.