Difficulty of Project
The higher price tag on this project is mitigated by the fun you will have trying to break things in the most creative way possible. That said:
Wine glasses(36):Find them at a dollar store, Walgreens, Target, or Meijer.
Broken glass is dangerous. Handle it carefully.
Please see the Cost section- they are not necessarily easy to get, but the investment might be worth it.
Approximate Time Required to Complete the Project
This may take a bit longer than most - plan for a few evenings for set-up and a couple of weekends for executing the project. All total: 3-4 weeks.
The project is simply testing the efficacy of common packing materials on breakability.
The goals are to establish a ‘breakability index’ – basically to assess how much damage is done to fragile objects in different circumstances. Once this is done, the damage incurred in different ‘shipping’ situations --perhaps falling off a truck, or simply rough handling-- will be measured as it applies to champagne flutes. Three separate packing materials will be tested.
- Small shipping boxes
- Bubble wrap
- Packing peanuts
- Wine glasses
Anything that cannot be found at a typical pharmacy can be ordered online. Please see the bilbliography/links section for ordering materials online.
In today’s era of Ebay, craigslist, and internet shopping, sending products carefully and in an ecologically sound manner has become a primary concern. While this project doesn’t directly address the ecological concerns directly, this can still be a consideration when paired with the effectiveness of packaging materials.
This is fundamentally an Engineering question: what type of materials are best suited to different impact situations? Which will cushion the blow and maintain the integrity of the contents best?
- What are common packaging materials made of?
- How does geometry affect structural integrity?
- What are common ‘impact’ situations when shipping products?
- How do products get shipped across the country or overseas?
- What are the densities of various packaging materials, and how does that affect cost?
- What are the ecological impacts of various packaging materials on the environment?
Terms, Concepts and Questions to Start Background Research
Shipping, impact, damage index, geometry, Styrofoam, CFC’s, environmental impact, recycling.
- First, you will need to design your own ‘breakability index”: assign a numerical value to how much damage was done to the champagne flutes. You could do this in a number of ways: how many pieces the glass was broken into, how much of the glass remains intact, etc. The project allows for 9 extra glasses to break ahead of time to help you determine your index. It is suggested you make a ‘damage scorecard’ with a scale of 0-10, 0 being no damage and 10 being maximum damage.
- Outside of the 9 ‘index’ glasses, you have 27 remaining.
- Select three ‘impact situations’- perhaps thrown out of a moving vehicle, dropped from a second story window- whatever you like. Be creative.
- For each impact situation, you will use 3 glasses in three boxes for all three packaging materials. It is handy to think of this as a rule of 3s “3-3-3”.
- Package 3 glasses in foam pellets, three in newspaper, and three in bubble wrap, and seal your boxes shut with packaging tape.
- Take these 9 boxes and subject them to an impact situation.
- CAREFULLY (Use gloves!) open the boxes and assess the damage, using the ‘damage index that you designed.
- Average the damage impact scores: for example, if the three bubble wrap glasses had damage scores of 0, 2, and 4, the average damage for bubble wrap would be 2.
- Repeat the procedure for the remaining 2 impact situations.
- Graph your data, and don’t forget to take pictures for your science fair board!
It is always a good idea to photo-document the process of your experiment for your science fair board! It may also be wise to explain how you assessed damage- a printout of your ‘damage index’ would be a great way to explain to your audience how you designed the experiment.