Educator Features

Egg-Scape Basket
Teacher Section

Objective: To construct an emergency escape system.

Grade Level: 5-8
Subject(s): Physical Science, Mathematics, Technology
Prep Time: 10-30 minutes
Duration: Overnight/extended
Materials Category: Household

National Education Standards

Physical Science
            Properties and changes of properties in matter
Science and Technology
            Abilities of technological design

Represent and analyze mathematical situations and structures using algebraic symbols
Analyze characteristics and properties of two- and three-dimensional geometric shapes and develop mathematical arguments about geometric relationship
            Understand relationships among the angles, side lengths, perimeters, areas and
            volumes of similar objects
Formulate questions that can be addressed with data and collect, organize and display relevant data to answer them
            Select, create, and use appropriate graphical representations of data, including
            histograms, box plots, and scatterplots

Technology Literacy
Students will develop an understanding of the attributes of design.
Students will develop an understanding of engineering design.
Students will develop an understanding of the role of troubleshooting, research and understand relationships among the angles, side lengths, perimeters, areas and volumes of similar objects
Students will develop the abilities to apply the design process.
      Per Team
  • Raw egg (one per team member)
  • One empty and cleaned individual-size juice or milk carton
  • Box cutter (not to be used by younger students)
  • Scissors
  • One piece of nylon fishing line 4.75 meters (15 feet) in length
  • One large metal washer
  • One-half meter (20 inches) of yarn or string
  • Stopwatch
  • Other materials (for creativity)
  • Student Page
  • Stopwatch
  • 2.4-meter (8-foot) ladder
  • Duct tape
  • Team Statistics Chart
  • Paper towels
  • Bottle of all-purpose cleaner
  • Two cinder blocks or a cinder block wall
  • Measuring tape
  • 'S' hooks
  • Student Page
Pre-lesson Instructions
Set-up drawing for egg-testing experiment
  • Divide the class into teams of four students.
  • Have team members bring in a decorated raw egg to represent a crew member for their emergency escape and an egg carton to display their egg-stronauts.
  • Arrange for three judges (teachers, administrators or older students) to vote on the Best-Looking Crew Award prior to the competition. Decide on criteria for judging. See the Best-Looking Crew Award Judge Sheet below for judging criteria.
Image to right: Construct a test area with a ladder, a slide wire and cinder blocks. Credit: NASA

  • Several team award ideas have been included in this lesson. Use the awards included or create your own. Prepare team awards for the day of competition. (See the Best-Looking Crew Award Judge Sheets.)
  • This activity requires an open area where a 4.57-meter (15-foot) piece of fishing line can be extended from a 2.4-meter (8-foot) ladder 3.8 meters (12.5 feet) away from a wall or two cinder blocks stacked one on top of each other. Suggested set-up shown above.

Background Information

Astronauts practicing an emergency evacuation from the Orbiter
Every facility needs an emergency escape plan. Space Shuttle astronauts practice for an emergency escape from the Orbiter. The space term for the maneuver is called an emergency egress. Should an emergency situation arise, astronauts have several options for quickly exiting the crew compartment area, depending on how far the launch has progressed.

Image to left: Shuttle astronauts practice emergency escape procedures. Credit: NASA

When the Orbiter is on the ground awaiting liftoff, astronauts have access to the Emergency Exit System. It's positioned 59 meters (195 feet) above the ground, at the same level as the Orbiter Access Arm, and includes seven baskets suspended from seven slidewires that extend to a landing zone 366 meters (1,200 feet) to the west. After the astronauts climb into the baskets, a braking system, catch net and drag chain slow, and then stop the baskets as they slide down the wire. The angle of the slidewire causes the baskets to move the astronauts as far away from the Space Shuttle as possible. The braking system stops the baskets from hitting the ground too hard.

In this lesson, students will be working as a team to get their crew of raw eggs (egg-stronauts) to the ground quickly and safely.

  1. Discuss the different escape plans used by astronauts and emergency plans used by the school. Focus on the importance of having escape plans and practicing them prior to an emergency.
  2. Distribute the Student Pages.
  3. Review the directions on the Student Pages.
  4. On the day of the team competition, record the time, the condition of the crew eggs and the number of braking systems used on the Team Statistics Chart.
  5. Place a starting line 1.5 meters (5 feet) from the competition area.
  6. Start timing the team as soon as you give the command to abort the mission and the team crosses the starting line. The team must connect their slide wire and begin egress. Stop the timer once their crew eggs are on the ground.
  7. Have the team place their eggs on a paper towel to check for cracks.

  • After the "egg-scape" competition, analyze the data from the Team Statistics Chart.
  • Instruct teams to calculate their "egg-scape" basket average speeds and submit their results.
  • Present awards to the teams.
  • Instruct the teams to create mission patches for their egg-ceptional egg-stronauts.
  • Instruct each team to write a creative story about their egg crew. Encourage teams to be creative!
  • Instruct the students to graph the average of the results of each team's egg-scape basket.
  • Raise the question: Is the speed the same everywhere on the escape route?

Best-Looking Crew Award Judge Sheet

Use a scale from 1-10 (with 10 being the highest and 1 being the lowest)

All eggs decorated
Variety of materials used
Eggs resembled a crew
Total points

Team Statistics Chart Egg-scape Competition

Time to complete escape *Rank 1 - 10
Egg-scape basket speeds *Rank 1 - 10
Number of braking systems
Number of eggs cracked *Rank 1 - 10
**Best looking crew points
Overall Total Points

Best score in each column

*Rank from best to worst, with 10 being the best and 1 being the worst.

**Tally judging sheets for best-looking crew and enter the results in this column.


Best Looking Crew Award Certificate

Ultimate Safety Award Certificate

Fastest Egg-scape Award Certificate

Scrambled Egg Award Certificate

Most Creative Egress Award Certificate

Best Overall Egress Award Certificate

Egg-Scape Basket Student Page