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The challenge pit these students against five other teams at the second annual Broadcom MASTERS competition. But that project would count for only one-quarter of each contestant’s score here at the finals. As the team pondered its options, some plastic wrap burst with a satisfying sound.
Eventually, the White Team figured out how to protect an egg enough to allow it to survive a drop from nearly 8 feet (2.4 meters) above the ground.
All the other teams protected their eggs too — although not always on the first try.
Engineers design automobiles to protect the people inside, just like a paper bag filled with packing peanuts and bubble wrap can protect an egg.
Unfortunately, the White Team’s second drop didn’t end so well for the egg: “It broke into so many pieces! On the next try, the students added more bubble wrap, which solved the problem.
To help the Broadcom MASTERS finalists understand how apparently similar crashes could turn out so differently, the Insurance Institute provided detailed measurements from the collisions it had conducted.
The finalists then used these data to understand some critical differences.
The five expectantly peered inside: The egg had survived!
Among the many problems that engineers tackle, protecting eggs is one that most consider pretty much solved.
Structural engineers may design a bridge to handle heavy loads, to span especially long distances or to withstand harsh conditions. And civil engineers design sewers, tunnels, buildings and other structures that we reply upon in everyday life.“Thunk!
” The White Team’s egg hit the bottom of a plastic bin on the carpeted floor of the hotel where the competition was taking place.