Humpty Dumpty days are gone: Bella Vista students engineer ideas so their eggs won’t crack
Jun 24, 2019 10:20AM
● By Julie Slama
Bella Vista Principal Cory Anderson and fifth-grade teacher Sara McBee send students’ egg drop challenge packages over the edge of the school roof. (Julie Slama/City Journals)
By Julie Slama | [email protected]
In the last few days of the school year, many schools allow students to watch movies after cleaning out their desks. But at Bella Vista Elementary, every year near the last school day, there’s an engineering challenge that students and their families embrace: the egg drop.
“It’s a fun tradition that involves putting their engineering skills into practice and to the test,” said fifth-grade teacher Sara McBee, who began the tradition 10 years ago. “It’s one of our biggest community events where parents get involved and it brings them here when we drop [the eggs] from the roof.”
All 250 students, from kindergarten through fifth grade, bring their eggs wrapped in bubble wrap or noodles; stuffed in balls, sleeping bags and blow-up beach balls; suspended by string or straws; supported by homemade parachutes; or packaged in boxes and wrapped as presents; ready for Principal Cory Anderson and a couple of teachers to throw off the school roof.
“We’ve only made a few changes and that being, it can’t be in peanut butter or in watermelons,” Anderson said. “We’re not only trying to contain the mess, but also to challenge the students to think critically and come up with a way to engineer a way for the egg to survive.”
Eggscellent. In other words, the objective is to not to see the egg sunny side up or even to witness the yolk.
McBee said students look forward to it all year, but only have two weeks to design and construct a way for the egg not to be cracked.
“This is a fun way to bring science curriculum into practice and for students to problem solve and think critically about a problem to come up with their own solution,” she said. “It also builds culture. We’re a small school, so we’re like family and it’s a tradition that builds our community and everyone looks forward to.”
The toss is performed grade by grade, with projects thrown to a blue tarp, encircled by students. Music played on a sound system provided free by Europhic Beats Audio gets students, parents and teachers singing and dancing.
Once the all clear is given, students race — or supposedly walk — to their wrapped eggs and take them to PTA volunteers, who, wearing latex gloves, carefully unwrap the projects on plastic-covered tablecloths to discover either a scrambled egg or the shell intact — the latter, to the delight of students.
Korina Caldwell said her third-grade son, Preston, eagerly counts down the days of school until the egg drop, then the end of the school year.
“He loves the egg drop since he’s science-oriented,” she said. “He sits down with his dad and they figure out a new way every year to have the egg not break. He then tests it at home. Last year, he tested it from our roof after wrapping it in hand towels and old rags and it worked. But it broke when it was dropped from the school roof.”
This year, Preston suspended it inside a shoe box and wrapped it all in his sister’s diaper. Luck was with him as his egg survived the one-story fall.
Teacher Alyson Rice said it’s a great event after the year-end testing.
“It’s a great way to engage students,” she said. “They’re planning, organizing, using critical thinking skills and having fun while learning.”
The egg drop isn’t the only year-end tradition that involves learning. McBee has her students tie-dye T-shirts to understand chemical and physical changes. Then, the shirts are worn for field day, which involves a fire engine coming to spray down students.
Some traditions are just plain fun, such as the fifth-grade pool party, which Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center provides to those students for free, she said.
The fifth-grade promotion celebrates elementary learning before students move on to middle school, and the clap out at the end of the school is “huge, a big deal” as all students follow the fifth-graders out of the school at the end of the school year.
While both Anderson and McBee will move on to other Canyons School District schools next year, McBee hopes the egg drop will continue at Bella Vista.
“I’m all about tradition, kids and community, and this embodies it all,” she said. “It builds culture and celebrates learning.”