By Mike Blass, U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria Public Affairs June 10, 2014
VILSECK, Germany -- When most people think of STEAM, dropping eggs, building Legos, or riding on hovercrafts is probably the last thing they think of.
But for Vilseck Elementary School students, STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics.
There were multiple projects to accomplish on this cool and windy spring day, one of which was building a transportation system out of Legos. Students had to explore all elements of STEAM in order to construct their projects. Some even spelled STEAM out of the Legos.
But all of the projects had one thing in common, they were all very elaborate and challenging which makes one think these children just might be the architects and homebuilders of the next generation.
After being in awe of the amazing Lego sculptures, it was time to head over to the fifth-grader's egg-drop competition. Kids were free to use their imagination on how to pack the eggs, but there were a few contraband items, namely, Bubble Wrap.
The concept is simple: package an egg in such a way that it will survive a 75 foot drop from a fire truck ladder. The practice, however, was not as simple as the concept.
In addition to rising and falling temperatures due to the sun going in and out from behind the clouds, there was a hefty wind that often surged and floated the eggs with "parachutes" halfway down the block. The ideas the students came up with, however, were brilliant.
Some students used traditional "parachute" designs using plastic bags and handkerchiefs and others wrapped the egg in toilet paper and then put them in a box and put rubber pieces around the box to help absorb the shock. One student even contrived a spring device to trampoline the device back up in the air after hitting the ground in hopes that the second landing would be much softer.
Some of the containers floated down to a soft landing. Others bounced four or five times before coming to a stop. But no matter how it landed, the children eagerly awaited the opening of the package to see if the egg broke or was still intact. Spectators could tell by the screams of joy, the jumping up and down, and the high-fives, which eggs survived.
"All-in-all this was the most successful year yet," said Paige Hall, a fifth-grade teacher at the school. "More than 90 percent of the eggs survived the fall this year, more than any year before," she added.
After all the excitement, and in some cases the emotion, of the egg-drop experiment, it was time to head back inside for a demonstration, and for a few lucky students, a ride on Principal Scott Finlay's homemade hovercraft.
"Mrs. Finlay and I made this a few years ago using nothing more than a wooden board, a vacuum cleaner, and some plastic bags," said Finlay.
He then proceeded to "hover" some lucky students and teachers around the floor all the while explaining the science behind the "magic."