Last fall, I was at a kick-off event that included an egg drop competition. As I stood watching the drop and chatting with friends, it occurred to me that not only was the activity fun, a great way to learn some science, and relatively cheap (at least before the price of eggs sky-rocketed), but it also could provide some excellent speaking practice.
Many schools have egg drop competitions for various reasons, and many science teachers do a unit on force, motion, air resistance, and all of the other wonderful science topics associated with the design of these contraptions. I am not a science teacher, so I would not even try to explain the science behind designing a successful egg drop contraption; instead, I would take this as a cross-curricular collaboration opportunity and work with our science teacher(s). I am proposing that speaking practice be added into two different phases of the competition: the building and the presentation/testing.
My Mr. Potato Head descriptive writing project and Lego Preposition Build activity inspired the beginning speaking practice. After students have designed their egg drop contraption on paper, they will need a partner. Since this activity requires a fair amount of trust, I would allow students to choose their own partners. I don’t want students accusing one another of purposefully sabotaging projects, and allowing them to work with a friend reduces this likelihood. Student A then orally explains to Student B how to design the contraption Student A designed. Student A is not allowed to touch anything but his/her own plans. Student B may ask questions but may not do anything Student A doesn’t say to do. Once Student A’s contraption is built to his/her satisfaction, partners switch roles to build Student B’s contraption.
The presentation/testing speaking practice is a bit more intimidating as it is in front of the entire class. Before dropping their egg and protection contraption, students explain to the class how they designed/made it and why they believe it will successfully protect the egg. After dropping it, the success of the contraption is evaluated, and students engage in discussion once again. The final discussion is around the reasons for the success or failure of the device and how it might be improved in the future.
Sadly, the program I am currently working in does not provide me with the opportunity to try this particular idea out. So, if you try it, please let me know how it goes! Happy teaching, everyone.