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Humpty Dumpty's date with gravity

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Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall — off the tippy top of the play equipment at Holy Cross Academy in Fredericksburg Aug 9. Actually Humpty Dumpty was dropped — by summer campers. Don’t worry, it was all in the pursuit of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

The egg drop was one of many activities at this year’s space-themed STEM camp that taught rising fourth- through seventh-graders about engineering and design. 

“It is amazing how well they work together even though the ages are all different,” said Margaret McNamara who has organized the camp for the past 10 years. “Every morning when they come in they start with a design challenge.” 

Activities included space crystals, robotic arms, lateral velocity, cellophane space suits, bottle rockets and designs for the future Mars colony that NASA plans to start by 2030.  

Before the 22 students started building designs to protect their eggs, McNamara insisted they go through the design and planning stage first. Working in groups, they figured out on paper the best combinations of paper plates, cotton balls, straws and coffee filters that would deliver their egg-astronauts back to earth safely.

Sixth-grader Eva Florio and seventh-graders Cecilia Rotsch and Claire Theberge built two prototypes before settling on their final design.

Their egg astronaut was one of seven that survived the fall only to become McNamara’s breakfast another day. The best designs utilized triangles or sturdy curved paper plates to slow the decent and absorb the impact.

The two groups whose designs depended on careful aim and a landing pad, however, would have to depend on all the king’s men to help put their astronauts back together again.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018