‘Bombs away!’ Local high school egg-speriments drop off Beaty Towers

With a whoosh, thud and occasional splat, Gainesville High School physics students recently conducted an egg-drop science experiment off of the third tallest building in town, Beaty Towers East.

Students were tasked with making a vessel that would keep an egg intact when launched from the 13-story building. Keith Watts, the physics teacher and UF alumnus behind the (sometimes) annual class experiment, said all vessels had to be 10 inches by 10 inches by 10 inches, and items had to come from each student’s house. Further, parachutes and glass were prohibited, and students had to be able to easily open and close each vessel to show if the egg was intact.

Watts said he’s been doing this experiment since the late 90s or early 2000s, intermittently, and he brought it back this year for students to get extra credit in their lab grades, 20% extra credit for participating and an extra 20% on top of that if the egg survived.

Watts picked the location for three reasons. He is a double Gator himself and loves the university. He wants to expose his students to a college campus. Even though they live in Gainesville, they might not have been to campus or a dorm. The third reason is because Beaty Towers are some of the tallest buildings around.

“This drop is well over 160 feet, so this really gives all the egg drop containers a chance to reach what we call terminal velocity—where it’s not speeding up anymore—to see what will happen if we can get all of these to reach their maximum speed,” Watts said.

From rubber banded sponges to foam filled shoe boxes to a plastic bag filled with cereal, students had many successes — but also many failures. Usually half the eggs survive the fall, according to Watts, and this year was close to that statistic. Thirty-five eggs survived, 31 cracked and two got caught in trees.

“If you live in the community, you really should get to know how important UF is,” he said. “And to see something like this that UF really is involved and invested in trying to make our community better.”

Blake Trauschke May 20, 2022