Fragile! Handle with Care! This Side Up!

3.8 based on 14 ratings

Updated on Mar 18, 2010


General Science


Middle School

Difficulty of Project



$ 10

Safety Issues

Wear safety goggles, exercise care on ladder.

Material Availability

Some of materials are readily available from the local supermarket. The packaging materials may be purchased from UPS or Fedex or the US Postal Service.

Approximate Time Required to Complete the Project

1 week. This includes collection, recording and analysis of data, summary of results and completion of bibliography.


To determine which is the best packaging material for keeping fragile items safe during the shipping process.

Materials and Equipment Required

  • 6 cardboard boxes of the same size
  • two dozen eggs
  • packages of packing peanuts
  • Styrofoam, bubble wrap, packing paper
  • ladder
  • tape
  • marker
  • labels


Background Information

On the information level students should research the famous egg drop experiment which is conducted in both high schools and colleges around the country. Students should explore the concepts of force, motion and gravity and Newton`s 2nd Law of Motion.

On the experimental level, this science fair project serves to acquaint students with the essential processes of sciencing such as the importance of the use of a control, of identifying dependent and independent variables, of data collection, of pictorial and graphic presentation of data and of being able to make better judgments as to the validity and reliability of their findings. They take on the role of scientists and in the process they learn to act as one.

Research Terms

  • gravity
  • motion
  • Newton`s Laws of Motion

Research Questions

  • What kinds of materials are currently used to protect items being shipped across the country?
  • Has any research been conducted as to the effectiveness of Styrofoam or bubble wrap?

Terms, Concepts and Questions to Start Background Research

  • What is a control? A control is the variable that is not changed in the experiment.
  • What purpose does a control serve? It is used to make comparisons as to what changed or possibly caused the change.
  • What are variables? Variables are factors that can be changed in an experiment.
  • What is an independent variable? The independent variable is the one that is changed in the experiment.
  • What is a dependent variable? The dependent variable is the one that changes as a result of the change in the independent variable.

Charting and Graphing Data

In each section of the experiment, use charts to display the obtained data such the following sample:

Type of Material Used to Protect Eggs
Observations of 8 ft Drop
Trial 1
Observations of 8 ft Drop
Trial 2
Bubble Wrap
Packing Paper
Control (Just Box)

Experimental Procedure

  1. State the problem you are going to investigate in this science fair project.
  2. Create the data sheets you will use to record your observations.
  3. Gather all your materials. Use the same size of box
  4. Using the same sized boxes, preferably square boxes measuring six inches on each side. Place the different materials separately in each box and label the box. For example box #1 may contain packing peanuts, box #2 may contain bubble wrap, box #3 may contain packing paper and box #4 may be the control, just the eggs. Place a raw egg in the center of each box and cover with the specific material, be it bubble wrap, the peanuts etc.
  5. Seal each box and make certain it is labeled.
  6. Make certain to set up your control, a box with just the raw egg. Seal and albeit.
  7. Start by getting upon the ladder and deciding the height from which you will drop each box. Note the word drop. Do not throw each box! Just hold each one up to the same height and just let go!
  8. Inspect each box. Open it to see if the egg survived the fall or did it crack? If so how many cracks and how large were they? When in doubt, you may wish to repeat this part again using a new egg.
  9. Optional: You may wish to repeat this experiment againby dropping the eggs from different heightsto determine if height is an important variable in this experiment and if one particular type of packing material is best for long drops.
  10. After inspecting each box, record your observations. You may wish to take photos of the before and after conditions.
  11. Prepare your report and include all of the following: a clear statement of the problem and your hypothesis, Include the reason for your hypothesis. List the materials used. Include the safety precautions taken. Describe the procedures used. Include all the data that were gathered. Include all charts. Formulate your conclusions.For dramatic value, you may include photos of the materials used or of you in the process of conducting this investigation as well as the pictures of the results. Include a bibliography of sources you used. You may wish to assess what you did and describe what you would do differently if you were to do this project again.


Dr. Muriel Gerhard (Ed.D.) is a retired educator with fifty seven years of experience in all aspects of public education. She has been a teacher, principal, administrator, college professor, researcher, grants writer, change agent and science editor. She is the author of several books on education used as college texts. These include the best selling Effective Teaching Strategies with the Behavioral Outcomes Approach and The Behavioral Outcomes Handbook for Teachers and Administrators. Presently she is a consultant in science education and curriculum development, a marriage and family therapist, a newspaper columnist and an author. Her latest book, recently published, is a memoir of sixty vignettes entitled "Now That I`m Dead, I Decided to Write this Book."

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