Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
Sunny
77°
Sunny
Hi 83° | Lo 59°

Budding engineers test designs at Hatfield Elementary

  • Hatfield Elementary 6th graders, Elizabeth Wilson, left, and Leah Nasaldo hand their engineering project over to 6th grade science and math teacher Megan Millette to be dropped from a ladder to test their design on Friday, February 15, 2013. The project was a joint effort between seniors from Smith Academy and the 6th grade class at Hatfield Elementary.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Hatfield Elementary 6th graders, Elizabeth Wilson, left, and Leah Nasaldo hand their engineering project over to 6th grade science and math teacher Megan Millette to be dropped from a ladder to test their design on Friday, February 15, 2013. The project was a joint effort between seniors from Smith Academy and the 6th grade class at Hatfield Elementary.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hatfield Elementary 6th graders, Elizabeth Wilson, left, and Leah Nasaldo look to see if the egg held in their engineering contraption broke when it was dropped from a ladder onto the pavement outside of the school on Friday, February 15, 2013. The project was a joint effort between seniors from Smith Academy and the 6th grade class at Hatfield Elementary.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Hatfield Elementary 6th graders, Elizabeth Wilson, left, and Leah Nasaldo look to see if the egg held in their engineering contraption broke when it was dropped from a ladder onto the pavement outside of the school on Friday, February 15, 2013. The project was a joint effort between seniors from Smith Academy and the 6th grade class at Hatfield Elementary.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hatfield Elementary 6th graders Abigail Davey, left, Brett Gratz, center, and Kyle Kirkland look to see if the egg held in their engineering contraption broke when it was dropped from a ladder onto the pavement outside of the school on Friday, February 15, 2013. The project was a joint effort between seniors from Smith Academy and the 6th grade class at Hatfield Elementary.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Hatfield Elementary 6th graders Abigail Davey, left, Brett Gratz, center, and Kyle Kirkland look to see if the egg held in their engineering contraption broke when it was dropped from a ladder onto the pavement outside of the school on Friday, February 15, 2013. The project was a joint effort between seniors from Smith Academy and the 6th grade class at Hatfield Elementary.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • 6th grade science and math teacher Megan Millette of Belchertown drops her students engineering project off of a ladder to see if the egg will break when it hits the pavement at Hatfield Elementary School on Friday, February 15, 2013. The project was a joint effort between seniors from Smith Academy and Hatfield Elementary 6th graders.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    6th grade science and math teacher Megan Millette of Belchertown drops her students engineering project off of a ladder to see if the egg will break when it hits the pavement at Hatfield Elementary School on Friday, February 15, 2013. The project was a joint effort between seniors from Smith Academy and Hatfield Elementary 6th graders.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • 6th graders from Hatfield Elementary School stand in front of an engineering project they have been working on with Smith Academy seniors on Friday, February 15, 2013. The project is a contraption built to keep an egg from breaking when it is dropped.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    6th graders from Hatfield Elementary School stand in front of an engineering project they have been working on with Smith Academy seniors on Friday, February 15, 2013. The project is a contraption built to keep an egg from breaking when it is dropped.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hatfield Elementary 6th graders, Elizabeth Wilson, left, and Leah Nasaldo hand their engineering project over to 6th grade science and math teacher Megan Millette to be dropped from a ladder to test their design on Friday, February 15, 2013. The project was a joint effort between seniors from Smith Academy and the 6th grade class at Hatfield Elementary.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Hatfield Elementary 6th graders, Elizabeth Wilson, left, and Leah Nasaldo look to see if the egg held in their engineering contraption broke when it was dropped from a ladder onto the pavement outside of the school on Friday, February 15, 2013. The project was a joint effort between seniors from Smith Academy and the 6th grade class at Hatfield Elementary.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Hatfield Elementary 6th graders Abigail Davey, left, Brett Gratz, center, and Kyle Kirkland look to see if the egg held in their engineering contraption broke when it was dropped from a ladder onto the pavement outside of the school on Friday, February 15, 2013. The project was a joint effort between seniors from Smith Academy and the 6th grade class at Hatfield Elementary.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • 6th grade science and math teacher Megan Millette of Belchertown drops her students engineering project off of a ladder to see if the egg will break when it hits the pavement at Hatfield Elementary School on Friday, February 15, 2013. The project was a joint effort between seniors from Smith Academy and Hatfield Elementary 6th graders.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • 6th graders from Hatfield Elementary School stand in front of an engineering project they have been working on with Smith Academy seniors on Friday, February 15, 2013. The project is a contraption built to keep an egg from breaking when it is dropped.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

— Scrambled or in the shell? The answer would be the deciding factor that would make or break the design success of an egg-carrying craft dropped from 12 feet above the ground on Friday morning at Hatfield Elementary School.

The egg-drop experiment is a traditional project that has tested the engineering abilities of sixth-graders at Hatfield Elementary over the years. Now, however, elementary school teacher Megan Millette and Smith Academy physics teacher Mark Acton have added a couple of new components that broaden the scope of the lesson.

For the first time, students at the elementary school not only had the opportunity to work with student mentors from a physics class at Smith Academy, but they also had to incorporate mathematics and economics into their projects as well.

Working in nine separate groups of three, the sixth-graders were told to work as if they were engineers for NASA. They not only had to build a safe craft that would produce a soft landing for an egg dropped from a variety of heights, but they also had to work within a faux “$10 million budget” to purchase the materials that they would need.

“We had already done previous labs that had to do with space, so the concept of working for NASA just followed nicely,” Millette said. “They had a whole myriad of building materials that were made available for them to purchase for their project,” she said.

Building materials included items like string, cloth, plastic, plastic bags, cardboard, straws, rubber bands and marshmallows.

Working with their mentors, the sixth-graders had to sketch out their design plans, and figure out a budget for the materials.

Cecilia LaFlamme, 11, said that she enjoyed the challenge of the project and that help from the older students came in handy.

“It was very fun. We did have a prototype to work off of, but we had to build and pay for our own design, making changes along the way so that it would work well,” Cecilia said.

Owen Baranoski, 12, said the selection of materials based on cost and effectiveness presented a variety of possibilities.

“It was challenging because we had to get all of the right components at the right price to make it work. It really made you think about how to make the best choices,” Owen said.

All of the students and their teachers gathered outside of Hatfield Elementary on Friday morning for the final test of their designs.

Of the nine designs that were tested, four proved to protect their poultry passenger, while five other containers failed to prevent their fragile contents from cracking.

Cecilia’s group was one of the successful survivors. “After all that work, it was pretty exciting to see that our egg survived,” she said.

Hatfield Elementary School Principal Jennifer Chapin said the collaboration with Smith Academy, elevated the experience for sixth-graders.

“It really makes the project credible to our kids when they see the older students working on the project, and it helps them understand that this is actually the kind of work that scientists do,” Chapin said.” It also completes a full circle for the older students allowing them to come back and offer their expertise,” she said.

Smith Academy junior Derek McMahen, 16, said he enjoyed mentoring the younger students.

“This was fun. I did the same thing when I was at this school. Being older now, I can see that there are a lot more aspects to consider in this project and it is good to help them see all of the different ideas they can come up with,” McMahen said.

Hatfield School Superintendent John Roberts was on hand Friday to see how the experiment turned out.

“It is great to have this sort of collaboration between the elementary school and the high school,” Roberts said. “I am hoping that we can do more of this in other areas.”

There are no comments yet. Be the first!
Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.