The nursery rhyme doesn’t say that Humpty Dumpty was an egg, but generations of young people learned the poem believing it was an egg.
Seventh graders at Carroll-Oakland Elementary School in Lebanon recently tested the Humpty Dumpty theory in a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) project for Stephanie Porter’s science class.
The egg drop was adapted from “a project called ‘Put A Lid on It: Engineering Safety Helmets,’ ” Porter said. “The Wilson County middle school EX-STREAM classes use this and call it ‘Helmets and High School Sports.’”
She said the initial step in the project was for the students to learn about areas of the brain and how concussions or brain injuries impact those areas. The goal was to introduce students to biomechanical engineering, she said.
Before designing their helmet, students were given two sandwich bags, a one-gallon bag, four popsicle sticks, four straws, two feet of masking tape and a paper cup. Students had to construct something that would protect their egg from cracking when dropped inside the school hallway. Some eggs survived, some did not, Porter said.
Students picked a sport that uses a helmet and researched the history of helmets in that sport. They then designed a helmet for the egg. The helmet could not exceed the one-quarter scale design dimensions.
The goal was for a student’s egg to survive the impact of a drop from the school’s roof. That was to simulate a traumatic brain injury, Porter said.
Eggs are “similar, in some regards, to the human head with a relatively hard shell as protection, but fragile inner portion,” she said.
There were six groups of two students, and each group was allowed only one egg for the drop from the roof. School Resource Officer Cpl. Jarrod Buhler and PE teacher Justin Rutherford dropped the eggs from the roof, which is about 16 feet high.
“Unfortunately, there were no survivors, and we took a moment of silence for the recently cracked,” Porter said. “The next day, we came into the class to evaluate the design, based on the engineering design process, to determine what changes could have been made in order for their helmet to be successful using the same supplies and what they might change if they could use additional supplies.”
Student Lexi Simpson said she enjoyed the entire project. “We don’t get to do stuff like this very much in school. Also, we were able to work in groups to build our helmets. Even though it was stressful, it was also fun.”
Student Hailea Cole said that “engineering is a lot harder than some people make it out to be. Also, helmets have probably taken a lot of work to develop over the years.”
Student Emma Knight said the project “helps females to understand that we are on the same level as everyone else. It helps us to realize that gender doesn’t really play a factor into how smart you are, how you think, or who you are.”