Popular culture, engineering mix it up in Hawthorne egg drop competition

Scott Swanson

The biggest surprise at Hawthorne School’s Egg Drop Challenge Thursday, Feb. 25, was the contraption that didn’t drop.

As custodian Mark Lindquist leaned off an 8-foot stepladder and released Kayla Robbins’ class’s entry in the competition, in which classes designed and built apparatus to protect raw eggs in a fall to the ground, the helium balloons supporting it caught a puff of wind that launched it skyward.

A wave of “Ohhhhhhhh’s!” rose from the crowd, followed by peals of delighted laughter as students watched the contraption climb into the clear, sunny skies. A few minutes later it was just a dot, somewhere over Foster Lake and moving fast.

(Incidentally, Mrs. Robbins’ class would like to hear from anyone who finds about 10 deflated balloons attached to a yellow capsule containing a – hopefully intact – raw egg). Call (541) 367-7167.

The event was part of Hawthorne’s Positive Behavior Intervention and Support program, which rewards students for responsible and respectful behavior. Each class prepared an entry and chose a theme, which in some cases involved costumes or headgear.

“This event started as a challenge to one of our teachers and rapidly expanded into what it is today,” Principal Terry Augustadt told the crowd. “It’s amazing that this school could create so many variations of costumes and designs.”

They competed for a breakfast of green eggs and ham, which will be awarded to the top finishers in the egg drop and class-theme contest categories.

The only real rules were that no entry could cost more than $10 and Augustadt had to be able to see the egg, encased in its protection, well enough to read the teacher’s name on it.

“We purposefully left the rules very vague,” Augustadt said. “Kids get so creative with their eggs.”

Themes ranged from Bumblebees (Dianna Looney and Nancy Keesecker’s kindergarten class, who all wore bee-antenna headpieces), to leather-jacketed fourth- and fifth-graders in Carla Alexander’s class. Others themed their entries and/or costumes around Minions, Star Wars, an owl’s nest, Super Hornets (the school mascot), Mr. Egg, the U.S. military, Imojis and “service people.”

Their egg-preserving creations included a number reliant on shopping-bag parachutes, most of which worked rather effectively, a Batman-themed roll cage, a number of Styrofoam-based designs – including the kindergarteners’ bumblebee, and a couple with helium balloons.

After some presentations by various classes, during which Jessica Maynard of Mike Long’s sixth-grade class confidently announced, regarding their Batman-themed cage, “We’re going to win, just so you know,” it was time to see whether they worked.

When Lindquist dropped all of them off the 8-foot ladder, several didn’t survive. When Robbins’ class’s entry flew away, Augustadt pronounced it an automatic winner.

Then Lindquist went to the school roof, where the approximately 15-foot drop claimed a few more victims.

But with seven entries still unbroken, it was time for the true test.

Sweet Home Fire and Ambulance District volunteers had parked the department’s ladder truck on the playground and they ran the ladder out to its full height of 110 feet.

Volunteer Mike Carpenter tossed them from the end of the ladder, to the delight of the audience.

“I’d hoped we would have a decisive winner in this bunch,” Augustadt told the students, after inspecting the entries following that drop. “But the reality is you are so creative and competitive that we have a five-way tie.”

Winners, in addition to Robbins’ class, were:

The winner of the theme competition, chosen later by staff members, were Looney and Keesecker’s bumblebees, whose egg contraption also survived all three tests. The others, who tied for first, were Marci Sullens’ kindergarteners, Rosemarie Clifford’s second-graders, Alisha Fritz’s and Jerika Spencer’s third-grade classes, Willa Martin’s fifth-graders, and Long’s sixth-graders.

“I’m going to be making green eggs and ham for seven classes,” Augustadt said.