The Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems (CAVS) at Mississippi State University (MSU) has developed The Mission Eggcellence Challenge Program to inspire young minds to explore the worlds of math, science, and engineering.
The Mission Eggcellence Challenge, given it’s name due to an egg acting as the passenger of the student-made vehicles, provides students with a hands-on introduction into vehicular crash-worthiness through applying basic concepts of physics.
Students can either chose to design a bumper that will be attached to a wooden car, or they can create a care out of K’Nex toys. Students then roll their car down a ramp and it crashes at the end. Cars with the eggs still intact after the crash advance to the next stage where the ramp incline continues to increase with each round.
Students learn physics terms like velocity, inertia, mass, acceleration, potential energy, kinetic energy, force, time and speed. Students then learn how those terms pertain to a car crash, explanations of what actually happens during a crash, and examples of safety devices like seat belts, air bags and bumpers and how those affect crashes.
“Throughout this unit, students not only got an introduction to the scientific method, they were actively involved in experiencing what design engineers do when they strive to make cars safer for passengers,” PEAK teacher Tammy Gammill said. “Students learned about inertia, force and velocity through active experiences. Then they worked in teams to test design ideas and tested those ideas by using a raw egg as the passenger in the crashes.”
Students learn how car manufacturers take those terms and the physics of a car crash into account when they design safety features. They learn that manufacturers must create a vehicle that is lightweight for the most affordable price. This is correlated into the competition by having a weight limit on each car, but still stable enough to prevent the passenger (an egg) from being injured (breaking).
The competition at MSU took place Jan. 22 and Ward Stewart Elementary team Thunder Bumpers took home first place in the challenge portion. The Thunder Bumpers is composed of Jaxon Brooks, Kristopher Triplett and Mary Grace Holt. Central School in West Point took home second place and New Hope Elementary took home third place.