kottke.org posts about The Great Egg Race

The Great Egg RaceOct 19 2010

The Great Egg Race was a late-70s/early-80s BBC TV show that was a kind of Junkyard Wars on a smaller and more nerdy scale. The first episode shows a number of people attempting to build small egg carrying cars powered by rubber band.

I love this stuff. I had a physics teacher in high school who presented us with a number of these challenges throughout the school year. There was the strong toothpick bridge (someone basically cheated and made a glue bridge with embedded toothpicks) and the rolling object (it had to go down a short ramp and stop on a mark about 10 feet away), but my favorites were the mouse trap-powered car and the egg drop.

The winning mouse trap car was made with a lot of assistance from the student's father, who owned a machine shop. It was light but solid with precisely machined plastic wheels and a precisely machined axle and travelled probably twice as far as any of the other cars, which were generally built with whatever crappy off-the-shelf components could be scrounged from the local five-and-dime. I spent three satisfying late nights building my car and came in pretty close to last.

The egg drop challenge involved constructing a landing pad no taller than 12 inches for an unboiled egg. Competitors dropped their eggs from successively greater heights until the egg broke. The two winning landing pads were successful at the greatest height that our small school could muster...out a window at the top of the football field stands, probably about 35 or 40 feet tall. One was a huge box full of wool and other soft materials that could have successfully cushioned an egg dropped from the top of the Sears Tower. The other winner was a tupperware bowl full of stale popcorn that your humble blogger grabbed off the counter the morning of the challenge after completely forgetting about it over the weekend. No one was more surprised than I to discover that popcorn is an ideal egg cushioning material...not that I let on. :)

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