Report from Problems You Have Never Solved Before: Failure Is Always an Option

Robin Tyler

by Robin Tyler

VAMPY attracts all types of gifted students. Some are students coming to push ahead in a familiar subject, like the students taking Mathematics or DNA and Genetics; some are students coming to learn about a subject not really taught in their school, like the students taking Pop Culture or Presidential Politics; and then you have my students, lovingly called “the problem children.”

In Problems You Have Never Solved Before, students get the opportunity to practice their engineering skills and the engineering design process itself, and no problem in the class shows off the engineering design process more than their first big challenge: the egg drop.

Egg drops in our class work a little bit differently than drops you may have tried yourself in school. Students began making their prototype drop devices on Tuesday. Using evidence and data from this drop, students then set about modifying their designs. After our initial testing, our class then came together to brainstorm what we needed to protect our eggs during our ultimate drop, the seven stories of WKU’s tallest parking structure. All of our brainstorming lead to one answer: parachutes!

From there, our students broke out into groups to design their own experiments, all testing different variables that could affect their parachutes’ fall time, before sharing and pooling together the information they had gathered. In case you are wondering, a 12-inch, layered, cotton parachute with four strings is the best to slow a golf ball’s fall. Looking to tomorrow, our Vampers, armed with their data, observations, and $35 VAMPY dollars good at the flagship Problems-Solvers-R-Us supply store, will be conquering the parking structure with their ultimate egg drop contraptions.

David Abel drops his egg.
Jordan Cathey and Lily Simpson


Tristan Fuchs and Parker Hall
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