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Egg flying in a paper plane.

Design for Safety activity C5. Can your students draw on their learning to protect an egg falling from height?

Activity C5: The Ultimate Challenge [ZIP, 283 KB]

How to use this activity

Put students in groups of 2 or 3. Their challenge is to design and make a protection device for dropping an egg from a height of at least 2m onto a hard surface, without the egg cracking.

This is a summative task to evaluate each student’s learning from the prior activities Design for safety C1-C4.

It will take several sessions to plan, construct, test and reflect.

The process

Here are steps involved.

  1. Design a device that will assist an egg to survive a fall from X metres. Use the Design Sheet provided.
  2. Build the device.
  3. Look at and critique everyone’s device. Start to fill in the Challenge Sheet.
  4. Test the devices.
  5. Finish the Challenge Sheet reflecting on what worked, what didn’t work and why.
  6. Consider - if you were to do another design using the best of everyone’s designs what would you do and why?

Drops from a greater height can add challenge and excitement, especially for older students. Try high on a playground or balcony or flat roof. For safety, the teacher does the dropping at these heights.

More about steps 1-2 (design and build)

Encourage students to think beyond methods they’ve already tried in this set of activities. Make it harder by not allowing the use of boxes.

The design needs to incorporate some form of shock absorption or crumple factor.

Students communicate what each part of their design does using their Design Sheet and then proceed to make their device.

It’s up to you (and the number of eggs you have) whether or not you allow device testing before the whole class drop. It may be more exciting and there is more to discuss if there are no practices.

More about steps 3-5 (critique)

When all the devices are complete, they are displayed around the class with the Design Sheet beside them.

All students rotate around the room looking at each other’s design and considering if that egg will survive the fall or not and why. They fill out their Challenge Sheet as they go.

Remember this is more than just students make something for fun. We’re looking for them to show and share how they link each part of their design to protecting the egg. This supports teacher judgement about achievement against learning outcomes.

After each egg is dropped the success (or otherwise) is recorded and the students are encouraged to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of each design.

More about step 6 (evaluate)

By asking the final question on the Challenge Sheet you can assess to what extent students have achieved the learning outcomes around applying knowledge, discussing evidence and critiquing design.

Where it fits in the New Zealand Curriculum

Nature of Science strand

Investigating in Science – exploring, predicting, defining, analysing.

  • Science activities can be used to develop any of the Nature of Science sub strands.
  • Identify aspects of Investigating in Science that your students need to get better at or understand more fully.
  • Then frame your unit to be very clear about these things when you do them.

NZ Curriculum | Science achievement objectives(external link)

Capability focus

Critique Evidence. 

The five science capabilities (TKI - Science online)(external link)

Contextual strand

Physical World, Achievement Objective: explore, describe and represent patterns and trends for everyday examples of physical phenomena, such as movement, forces etc.

Big science idea

An object travelling at a constant speed will remain at a constant speed until acted upon by an unbalanced force.

Crumple zones can slow down how quickly an object loses movement energy.

Some materials act as shock absorbers, reducing the force of impact.


  • Anything on or in a suddenly stopping vehicle will continue moving at the original speed.
  • Some of the energy of impact can be absorbed by good design.

Capability concepts

  • Investigations need to be reliable and robust (control variables, repeat trials).
  • Scientists often ask critical questions about how reliable an investigations method is.
  • Strong claims are made from strong evidence.

Possible learning objectives

The students can…

  • apply knowledge from previous activities to their design solution
  • discuss the evidence from previous activities which led them to their design
  • critique their design and design process
  • explain what happens to energy in a sudden impact
  • draw a representation of their design relating each component and its function.
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