Year 9 Student Ben attended one of a series of Engineering Masterclasses at Warwick University organised by the Royal Institute. He tells us how the day went:
We set out to investigate how different materials can reduce impact on an object, which can then be applied to the design of cars to make them safer for humans to travel in.
Split into competing teams, our first challenge was to drop a raw egg from two metres above the ground without it breaking when it landed.
We were not allowed to wrap the egg in anything to protect it but could place materials on the ground to try and reduce the impact and damage to the egg when it landed. We could choose from a range of materials including plastic cups, paper cups, aluminium cups and sheets of newspaper.
Our team used scrunched up newspaper and put it around the surface. We then scrunched more up and put it at the bottom of one of the plastic cups and did the same with another plastic cup. Putting paper cups inside the plastic cups resting on the newspaper, we then laid one plastic cup on the other and sellotaped them together. The egg was placed on a dropping machine, the platform was raised two metres off the ground and the egg was dropped from the platform it was on, onto our materials on the floor. Our egg survived and we had spent the least on materials!
There were another two rounds where we used newspaper only but unfortunately our egg did not survive either round. In the final round we could only use three sheets of newspaper and only a couple of teams succeeded.
We learnt that the longer a vehicle is, the more materials are needed to limit the impact and that the materials need to crumple so as to reduce the force and therefore impact on humans. Some materials can crumple but are very expensive.
It was a great day and I’m looking forward to the next one!