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Homework Help: Paper only Egg drop

  1. Jan 15, 2010 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    My physics teacher is making us do an egg drop after only being in school for two weeks. We can only use up to four 8.5" x 11" sheets of regular computer paper and as much tape as we want. The tape cannot be used as more than a form of attachment. Meaning that the tape cannot make a basket or strings for a parachute, for example. The egg has to be able to survive 3 drops, two from a second floor window, and one from the top of a football stadium. The more times the egg can survive the fall without the slightlest crack, the better grade I get.

    2. Relevant equations
    I'm not sure.

    3. The attempt at a solution
    I tried to build a double parachute design. I made a basket roughly the size of the egg with a double layered bottom(two layers of paper). The parachute had six strips of paper connecting the basket to the 11" parachute. I cut a one inch hole into the center of my parachute, and put a smaller 2" parachute about 2" above the other parachute. I dropped it a few times onto a couch and a bed from a few feet high and once I got it to fall a bit slower, I dropped it onto a padded table. The egg cracked almost completly in half when I dropped it onto the table.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 15, 2010 #2
    When the egg hit the ground the ground will exert of force over a period of time that will cause the egg to accelerate (or decelerate if you like) thus changing its momentum to some mvo to some mvf. So its pretty clear you can do two things.

    1. Make the initial velocity at which the egg hits the ground smaller using air resistance.

    2. Make the F part of impulse smaller and the t (time) part of the impulse bigger. Padding...

    So you can look at the math all you want, you need to slow it down if you can, you need to lower the force which it hits the ground and increase the time of deceleration. The practical/creative side of accomplishing the above is for you.
  4. Jan 15, 2010 #3
    Our teacher told us some designs that had worked on the past, and after taking notes, I triend what he described. My problem is is that I dont know how big I need to make the actual parachute. If you know a formula to calculate the area of parachute needed for however much weight is placed in the basket, this would be greatly appreciated. He said the egg will be between 55 and 65 grams, roughly.
  5. Jan 15, 2010 #4

    I would experiment.
  6. Jan 16, 2010 #5
    I'm trying to expirement, but there are literally a hundred ideas wizzing thought my mind everytime i pick up paper and scissors.
  7. Jan 16, 2010 #6


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    An important part of any engineering challenge is to intuitively know which of the hundred designs would work and which wouldn't.
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