Flamson Middle School students put their engineering skills to the test

PASO ROBLES — Seventh and eighth graders at George H. Flamson Middle School in Paso Robles engaged in a bit of learning by doing this past week. Science teachers Janelle Sailer, Darian Buckles, and Beau Bommer coached their students through the engineering unit by teaming them up and giving them a mission: Drop an egg from the second story stairwell onto the concrete below without cracking the egg.

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Students spent Wednesday and Thursday brainstorming ideas, drawing up their plans, building their contraptions to protect their eggs, and then testing their designs.

The designs were created using everyday objects, and most had makeshift parachutes attached to them. One of the designs was made primarily out of a water bottle, another was created with styrofoam, a third took the form of a lattice made with popsicle sticks, another was made from a wooden box, and there was even a teddy bear in which the egg was stuffed inside for protection.

All of these designs did their job in the testing phases, but the real test happened on Friday, which was drop day. The students gathered around the stairwell while one member from each team made the two-story drop. The increased height proved to be too much for most designs to handle, but one design prevailed.

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The styrofoam contraption with a ziplock bag for a parachute—designed by teammates Theron Chase, Serenity Cordova, Gabriela Espinoza, and Bones Cruz-Ortega—was the only contraption to keep the egg perfectly intact upon impact. The teammates were excited to discover that their creativity and ingenuity had paid off.

“I want a prize!” joked Espinoza.

“I want candy!” Cruz-Ortega joined in on the laughter. “We’re going to become famous after this.”

“It took us a while to come up with the idea,” said Cordova.

“Yeah, I would say it took us about forty minutes,” said Chase.

“Serenity brought the tape, Theron brought the styrofoam, Bones brought the string, and I brought the cottonballs,” said Espinoza.

“We designed it by each making our own designs, then we mashed them all together,” explained Cruz-Ortega. “I made the parachute.”

“It’s just a really fun way of teaching the engineering process,” said science teacher Janelle Sailer.