• Rob Hornberger

Physics experiment an eggcellent adventure for Kingsville students

Dropped from 95-foot fire department aerial truck ladder, parachute-equipped egg lands intact
Kingsville Public School pupils celebrate as student Owen Diemer, left, holds up an egg that was dropped from a 95-foot Kingsville fire department aerial ladder. The egg, equipped with a parachute and encased in bubble wrap, fell intact onto the school's bell tower six feet off the ground.

Grade 7 and 8 students at Kingsville Public School enlisted the help of the local fire department to test a parachute device that allows an egg to be dropped from a great height without breaking.

Teacher Brittany Wigfield, who organized the experiment, said previous tests had taken place at her home, with a drop of 16 feet, and again at 35 feet from a windmill at her uncle’s farm in Kingsville.

“When it survived we decided we have to go higher,” she said.

And that’s when the Kingsville Fire Department became involved.

“We were looking for … someone to partner with,” Wigfield said.

“We contacted hydro and the fire station and they were the first people to say absolutely yes, we can make this happen.”

The parachute materials were low-budget — a grocery bag, bubble wrap, tape, two plastic cups — and an egg.

“The toughest bit was putting it together and not letting the egg fall out because we were limited on tape” said student Owen Diemer.

Ninety five feet above the Kingsville Public School driveway, teacher Brittany Wigfield and Kingsville firefighter Matt Stewart drop an egg from the department's aerial truck.

The department drove its aerial truck to the school Friday and the experiment was conducted before a crowd of 50 students, staff and firefighters.

Wigfield and firefighter Matt Stewart entered the bucket and were hoisted to a height of 95 feet.

Silhouetted against a grey sky, Wigfield held the parachute and let it drop. The device and contents at first descended rapidly then the plastic bag engaged and began a slowly drift to the school driveway.

It didn’t hit the driveway, instead lodging in the school bell tower, six feet off the ground.

Students opened the packed contents and found the egg not scrambled but perfectly intact.

The experiment was repeated without the parachute and predictably the egg cracked under the pressure of the impact.

“We’re trying to extend beyond the curriculum into a little bit of physics,” said Wigfield. “We’ve been doing some research, what terminal velocity is, figuring out if we could hit that … and exploring crumple zones and airbags in cars.”

Fire prevention office Shawn Boutette said the department was happy to help with the experiment.

“We’re entering the Christmas break. We’ve had a rough year and we thought we’d give the kids some egg-citement,” he said.

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