A group of Kilgore students would have been a big help to Humpty-Dumpty.
Fourth-grade LEAP students put science in action Wednesday morning, dropping eggs from the top of an extended Kilgore Fire Department engine ladder with only the kids’ specially-designed parachutes and baskets saving the eggs from a fate worse than scrambling.
The students are enrolled in a special class for gifted and talented pupils. Students are enrolled in the LEAP program after being identified by test scores. The group meets once a week, led by teacher Beckey McCormick, who leads LEAP classes at Chandler, Kilgore Intermediate School and Kilgore Primary School.
“This is an example of one project,” said Dr. Cindy Lindley, Chandler Elementary principal, describing the unique program.
“Nothing is teacher-led. Everything is student-led, student-driven and the students do all the instruction. She (McCormick) tells them the task at hand and then it’s all up to them. They problem-solve through every task they have. They do a lot of designing, a lot of researching, things like that.”
Students crowded onto a field outside CES and watched as KFD drivers steered the engine into place and extended the ladder. As a firefighter climbed the ladder, the students began to cheer and shout “Drop the egg! Drop the egg!”
Each egg-laden parachute parcel floated down from about 100 feet above the ground. Each design was unique, though all followed a similar idea: a basket to hold and protect the egg, string to keep the parachute taut and thin material for the parachute itself.
Students raced across the field to collect their experiments after they fell to earth and eagerly inspected them to see if any cracks had occurred.
It took the LEAP students about three weeks to complete their creations, McCormick said.
“They had to make them in class. I said they could research what they want to do at home but they had to make them in class and they did the scientific method on how they designed it. They had to journal about each planned design and then we went outside and tested them and we had many broken eggs, so they got to come back in and fix what they thought needed to be fixed.”
Before the day of the parachute launch, the students tested their designs using fishing line and McCormick admitted she was a little nervous Wednesday to see how the experiments would perform in free-fall.
Despite the steep drop, the experiment went forward as expected. With 15 egg-chutes launched, all 15 were recovered and only one sustained any damage.
“I think it was a success,” McCormick said.
“They were super excited that we were able to do this and we really want to make this an annual thing. Every fourth-grade student will anticipate this and know that this is what they get to do in fourth grade. Every grade has their thing so we wanted to make something for them.”
Students shared their excitement about the experiment’s success.
“Seeing it out here today and it not cracking is very impressive,” said fourth-grader Kable Malone.
“I wasn’t really expecting the best of it because of all the errors that have happened in the past but it was really exciting to see.”
It wasn’t only the students who enjoyed the egg experiment.
“It was a lot of fun. I guess they got to learn the principles of it and it all worked out, everybody was successful,” said KFD Capt. Robert King.
He added KFD would be willing to help with future experiments if KISD makes the egg projects an annual event.
“We’ll definitely be able to help as long as the weather permits.”