The year 2020 has been one of altered plans, postponements and cancellations. The drain of missing out on so many events and fun activities has been felt most of all by the students in Pocahontas County. The school year has had many alterations to its regular schedule, and teachers can see that it is taking its toll on the students.
To help middle and high school students have a little fun – while still learning – the engineering, science and math departments created the first annual Egg Drop competition.
The competition gave students the simple task of creating a receptacle to hold three eggs and safely transport them to the ground. Sounds simple enough, except it is a 40 foot drop from the top of the silo at Pocahontas county High School. Students were allowed to work in groups or go it alone.
“We kind of felt like it was a safe event that we could still pull off outside,” math and computer science teacher Laurel Dilley said. “We normally go to the pumpkin drop at WVU – that’s their favorite thing in the world to do. So they were super bummed, obviously, that we couldn’t do that this year.”
Instead, the students sized down their protected object and held their own drop.
Along with PCHS students, the competition was opened to Marlinton Middle School and Green Bank Elementary-Middle School. A few 4-H members also participated after learning of the event from WVU Extension Agent Luci Mosesso.
At the time, GBEMS was on full remote learning, but members of the Robotics team were able to participate, with the help of coaches Paul Marganian and Karen O’Neil. MMS teacher Charlie Hughes included the egg drop project in classroom instruction and had the students learning about SpaceX and the Dragon capsule – a reusable cargo spacecraft which was launched into orbit in March.
“They really got into it,” Dilley said. “I guess she did a bunch of research with them. We wanted them to model [their designs] after the SpaceX Dragon capsule, so that was another cool element, especially for the middle school and younger kids to learn what SpaceX is. We even did that with our high school kids.
“We talked to them about all the different missions that SpaceX will be trying to do in the future and what the Dragon capsule is and why it’s such a big deal that a private company is sending people to space now.”
The students were given a materials list they had to stick to that consisted of cardboard, tape, water, plastic water bottles and plastic grocery bags.
The competition had 75 entries and, of those, more than 20 survived the impact. Winners were determined by how close the “capsules” landed to a target on the ground.
The event was held on a Wednesday, when schools are closed for deep cleaning, so the students were able to enjoy the drop and see all the designs that were created to protect the eggs.
“These kids need something right now to just be involved in at school that’s exciting and a little piece of normal, I guess,” Dilley said. “I think they all enjoyed it. It was really cool to see students get involved from classes that weren’t physics or engineering. Actually most of our winners came from those other classes.
“The kids were all super great,” she continued. “They all wore their masks the whole time. I had Macaden Taylor inside, organizing everything, and she’s amazing. Most of the engineering and computer science class and STEM club members were there for hours in the freezing cold, helping. It was cool to see the kids getting to do something like that.”
It was fun for the teachers, as well, with one even suggesting they have a faculty category in next year’s event.
“Aaron Pugh was saying, ‘we should have a staff division next year,’” Dilley said, laughing. “We already have some interest in that, which will be comical.”
For the actual drop, teachers Abe Rittenhouse, Chris Sutton and Justin Dilley were the ones who were on top of the silo, dropping the entries. The three were safely secured to the structure with the use of harnesses provided by carpentry teacher Duane Gibson.
Having her husband, Justin, as a fellow teacher now, has added to the fun of creating events like this, and Dilley said she’s looking forward to collaborating on more fun projects for students.
“It’s fun to have Justin up there now, too,” she said. “He’s totally into all this stuff. He doesn’t get as worked up as I do – so he keeps me level – but we can still bounce nerd ideas off each other.”
When the event was over and the cracked eggs were cleared, the winners were announced and received their trophies – designed by Max O’Ganian and 3D printed by the STEM club.
Overall Winner – Willie O’Ganian and Florian Baudler.
Innovation Awards – Devon George; and Jennalee Meck and Silas Riley.
Elementary and Middle Division – first place: Willie O’Ganian and Florian Baudler; second place: Duncan Sizemore, Tristan Sizemore, Willie O’Ganian and Florian Baudler; and third place: Kendra Moyers, Hannah Williams and Summer Hansford.
High School Division – first place: Jacob Barkley, Jacob Davis, A.J. Madison, Ethan Hamrick and Sierra Calhoun; second place: Hadden Mick, Max Ervine and Gabe Murphy; and third place: David Bond.
Projects which also survived the drop – Individuals: Devon George, Silas Dean, Taylor Alderman, Sienna Bircher, Emmalee Dean, Elizabeth Smithson, Alan Gibson, Max O’Ganian and Reggie Whitting.
Teams: Jamie Vandevander and Logan Fedak; Cage Burdette and Logan Ryder; Cassidy Hardesty and Tessa Kiner; Sara Stull and Chris Price; Rachel Burns and Macaden Taylor; Sarah Warder and Hazel Riley; and Sydney Puffenbarger and Madeline Ray.