All the King’s Horses and All the King’s Men

By Darron Crump and Brianna Strozier

Would not be needed if Thurston’s Freshmen Physics students built a safe egg container for Humpty Dumpty.

Last April, the University of Chicago’s Department of Psychology’s Professor Sian Beilock conducted a study to see if learning by doing helped student progress in science class.

The findings proved that students should be physically involved in the learning process.

“In many situations, when we allow our bodies to become part of the learning process, we understand better,” Beilock said. “Reading about a concept in a textbook or even seeing a demonstration in class is not the same as physically experiencing what you are learning about. We need to rethink how we are teaching math and science because our actions matter for how and what we learn.”

At Thurston High School, 9th grade physics teacher, Mrs. Danielle Aguilar wanted a way to show progress in her class without a traditional test or quiz.  Instead, she gave a project that read, “This marking period, we have focused our efforts on learning about gravity, momentum, and the velocities of falling objects.  There has been a lot of math involved, and you have done wonderfully! Now, it’s time to put that math to use in an EGGciting project!! “

Mrs. Aguilar then introduced the project.

“Have you ever dropped an egg?  Even it you haven’t, it’s easy to guess what happens.  The egg almost always breaks when it hits the hard floor.  But what would happen if you dropped the egg onto a large pillow?  What would happen if the egg had a parachute?

  • You will build a container for your egg that will survive being dropped from 5 feet (or more) above the ground.
  • You will be able to use the following materials ONLY:
    • 1 piece of cardboard
    • 12 inches of yarn
    • 1 drinking straw
    • Up to 5 sheets of computer paper
    • 3 full sheets of paper towel
    • 2 feet (24”) of masking tape
    • Other materials may be considered”

All ninth graders participated in the competition with groups of 3 -4 people.  Aguilar was pleased with the results.

“ Many students know and understand information but struggle when demonstrating their knowledge on tests.  A hands-on project allows for me to assess student learning in a different way. All students receive a test and a project grade for each unit in order to show a complete picture of their learning.  This project went exceptionally well this year.  Students were focused and worked well in their groups. They came up with a lot of creative, successful ideas!,” said Aguilar.

The most effective and successful designs had a cardboard box with padding (cotton balls, tissue, paper towels, etc) and a parachute. The most creative design involved origami cubes and balloons.

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