The Last Days

“We understand that it’s the last day and it’s beautiful weather outside but we need to take care of some things”

Their faces fall and they sink into their seats as they predict  boring class time coming their way.

“We will be doing an egg drop today”

Students sit up straight and tall, immediately curious.

The parameters are set, groups are assigned, and suddenly the students can hardly wait to get started.

The last few days of school are always somewhat of a conundrum.  A teacher ponders how best to handle the last hours with classes.  Personally, I want each day in my classroom to be productive, useful, and worth a student’s time, even the last days of the year.  With this goal in mind, a tradition has evolved: the egg drop. 

Students receive a set of supplies and work in teams to construct a structure that will protect a raw egg as it is dropped from the highest point available.  Of all surviving eggs, the structure with the least mass then wins. 

“Is this physics?” one girls queries, as though she’s discovered a trick we’re playing on her.  You know, like when a child suspects a parent of sneaking spinach into a fruit smoothie?  However, her skepticism gives way to the thrill of competition and the curiosity of the challenge and, in the end, her group wins!

We launch our eggs from the roof of the school.  Confidence, anxiousness, skepticism, and hope are all present. The launchers, one at a time, carefully place their eggs and count down.  Eager students below observe, film, and time the descent of each egg.  Celebration ensues as eggs emerge from their capsules unscathed.

“What’s the prize?”

“A place in the egg drop’s hall of fame”

“You have an egg drop hall of fame?” The students were clearly impressed by this.  I decide to not admit that I just made that up on the spot.

My colleague did manage to snag some muffins from the cafeteria so the winning team ends up with a muffin for each member.  It is enough to yield an eruption of cheers from the winning team. 

I have to admit; this morning as I was rounding up supplies and preparing for the egg drop competition, I questioned my sanity.  I thought about teachers around the world who pop in a video or have a party on the last day.  While I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, in fact, I envied them slightly, I just can’t bring myself to spend the last day that way.  I have an obsession with “feeling productive”.  On the flip side, I also can’t bear the thought of carrying on with another strictly academic lesson.  And I know the students wouldn’t be up for that either.  They’ve long checked out for the summer.  Their lockers are empty, their pink check-out forms signed, and yearbooks are clasped tightly in their hands.

So, this is my compromise: an egg drop competition.  It’s a success each time it’s conducted. My early-morning doubts are quickly dispersed as I observe students engaged and in debate about the best design.  My colleague, students, and I rejoice together as we head out for the egg drop itself.  It’s just plain fun.  Plus, the weather is gorgeous: full of warmth and sun.  At the end of the day, we all feel good.  Students analyzed, designed, thought critically, and participated in teamwork.  For me, that’s good enough for a last day of class!