By Tamas Mondovics

Zero-G, a team of five Lithia Springs Elementary School fourth grade students, took part in a recent competition to learn how to “safely” land an egg on the moon, Mars or an asteroid and won first place in the elementary division.

Coached by Karen Manget, the team consisted of Ian Wells, Yutaka Stephens, Aiden Titus, Daisy Terrell and Maggie Gambone.

In its fourth year, the event appropriately entitled “Planetary Lander ‘Egg Drop’ Competition” is sponsored by Space Florida & NASA-KSC, hosted at the Palm Bay Magnet High School in Melbourne.

The event is designed to help generate student interest and promote their understanding of aerospace technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as increase their awareness of organizations; all to help promote the space industry.

Open to all Florida schools and home-schoolers, the competition required each team to design and build their own lander in which a ‘raw-egg’ was to serve as the payload and must survive a drop of almost 20-ft., just as a real NASA Lander should on the moon, Mars or an asteroid. Following specific rules and guidelines, teams were to build planetary landers to fit into a 10 in. x 10 in. x 12 in. container.

The landers were to be constructed of all forms of aluminum, plastic, wood or soft foam. Each year, prizes are awarded in all three categories – Elementary, Middle and High School.

Manget was joined by fellow teachers and “coaches” Shannon McDonnell and Donna Terrell leading the seven teams from Lithia Springs ranging from second to fifth grade AGP (gifted) program students who participated in the drop competition.

“They kids really enjoyed the overall process,” McDonnell said. “It was interesting to see how the teams worked together to create each lander from scratch.”

McDonnell emphasized that the students learned teamwork as they would launch and discuss what they could change to make their project better. 

“They were limited with the type of materials they could use, but thought outside of the box when it came to creating,” McDonnell said.

For more info about the event, visit www.spaceflorida.gov/r-d/planetary-lander-egg-drop.