Students test design and science skills

Published 8:11 am Thursday, April 20, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Science and design came together for home-schooled students in the Chilton County Classical Conversations program as teams competed in science-related challenges on April 18.

The challenges were held at the Clanton City Park.

First up, students tested their designs for keeping an egg safe when dropped from a lineman’s bucket truck.

Classical Conversations tutor Sharon King said the teams had two weeks to create their designs.

“They had no instructions from any of the parents or the teachers,” King said.

Students could use rubber bands, popsicle sticks and paper towels.

Students had a list of variables they considered, such as would it be better for the egg to land on its point or on its side.

“We were trying to do a triangle because if it landed on the point [the impact force] would go out,” student Ivie Littleton said. “We wanted to do a parachute, but that didn’t work out with the material we had.”

Instead the team tried adding more paper towels to the design to cushion the blow.

Student Tyler Gothard said despite the design “the impact was too much” for the egg to withstand. He said he enjoyed working with other students on the project.

Ivie Littleton said she enjoyed “finding out what people could do” as the team worked on their design.

None of the teams weresuccessful in keeping the egg from breaking.

The students’ bridges designed from drinking straws, tape and rubber bands fared much better. The strength of the bridges was tested by attaching small hanging containers beneath the structure. Weight in the form of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters was slowly added.
Each design supported more than $3 worth of change. The design that supported the most supported $6.61 worth of change.

Student Yura Gothard, who was a part of the winning team, said tape and rubber bands were essential to the structure.

Multiple straws were held together by rubber bands for the supports, “so it could hold more weight,” Yura Gothard said.

He said he was surprised by how much weight the bridge held.

Sharon King said the students looked at pictures of existing bridges, while planning their designs.

“They figured out by looking at them that most of the bridges had a triangular design,” King said.

The bridge with the longest surface area supported $3.15 worth of change.

“We thought the triangles would give it more support,” student Sadie Martin said. “We thought if we make it longer it will balance more.”

Before testing the bridge, martin thought it would not hold a lot of change.

A small reinforced bridge supported $6.17. Student Titus King said the team initially used clay as the connecting medium, but switched to rubber bands because it held the straws together better.

He said he enjoyed testing out the design and seeing it work.

The final challenge was to design a paper airplane, and test whose plane could fly the farthest.