April 9, 2002

Egg Drop Hits the Pavement

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More than 400 local residents attended the ScienceCenter’s 17th Annual Egg Drop Contest that was held Saturday afternoon at Center Ithaca on Ithaca Commons. The event has been a favorite among many people, and this year’s turnout was the largest in the program’s history.

“It has grown so much that we have to do it in two sessions,” said Mary Helen Cathles, campaign manager for the ScienceCenter.

Contestants ranging from preschool-aged children to adults designed a variety of contraptions designed to shield eggs from a fall off of a three-story-high balcony. Prizes were awarded in categories such as Best Engineering Design, Best Free Fall, and Best Unsuccessful Effort. Other awards included Best Parachute and awards were given to the “best” contraptions in each age category. The contest began with early registration at 9 a.m. and lasted into the early evening, requiring the services of nearly 100 volunteers.

The event, which is sponsored in part by M & T Bank, the Ithaca Journal, Eagle Broadcasting, Time Warner and Wegman’s, has evolved in response to unique circumstances each year.

Judges are now instructed to break all eggs to ensure that contestants are not using a hard-boiled product, which is more durable. Cathles recalled an entry in which the designer had “cooked” the egg in Jell-O to give it increased stability. Howard Hartnett, vice president and regional manager for trust and investment services of M & T Bank was particularly enthused by a creation that featured an egg being secured inside of a toy chicken.

“It was amazing to see how much innovation and effort there was,” said Hartnett.

Hartnett and acting Ithaca mayor Paulette Manos were the co-masters of ceremonies.

Cathles, whose favorite entry of the day was a contraption called the “Pizza Smetza”– a disc designed like a pizza with an egg in the center — commented that the most “intense” group of contestants competed in the adult category, which included 36 “kids-at-heart.”

“With the adults, there were some really intense conversations going on,” she said. “Everyone was trying to talk physics.”

The age group with the most successful egg drops was the younger children. In the preschool afternoon category there were five unsuccessful entries out of 26, while less than half of the 19 adults in the afternoon experiences as fortunate a fate.

Recalling his experience, Hartnett commented on “the excitement of the youth in the crowd. Each time a new creation debuted it was a big moment for them.”

The biggest surprise for Cathles came in the highly contested category consisting of people in grades six through 11, which featured 37 entries.

“It’s one of the largest groups we have ever had in that age bracket. It’s great because the ScienceCenter is trying to attract more kids in that age group,” she said.

Eighth-grader Zack Kessler took the Best Overall prize in the highly-contested age group with his invention dubbed “Some Pun on the Word Balloon.”

“It was fun seeing so many interesting and colorful designs,” Kessler said.

Speaking of his winning entry he said, “It was good because it was something new. I had never done a parachute before.”

Archived article by Gary Schueller