Mission Eggcellence: Mission

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Mission Statement

The Mission of the CAVS K-12 Outreach Project is to develop a commitment from CAVS to the children of Oktibbeha and surrounding counties through curriculum instruction for teachers and competitions for students dealing with the design of a vehicle for passenger safety and / or use of alternative fuels to power a vehicle. The teacher workshops, instruction, equipment, and student competitions will result in awareness among the targeted school age population of future job opportunities in the State of Mississippi as well as college majors associated with these jobs. It will also create an awareness of the research on the development of alternative fuels for providing power, of the importance of design in safety implications, and of the real-world applications of mathematics, science, and problem-solving skills.


  1. Educate the targeted population on State offerings in the area of college degrees and corresponding job opportunities.
  2. Provide instruction to teachers, in the targeted objectives in the areas of mathematics and physics, through workshops and equipment designed to measure these objectives.
  3. Develop a curriculum / materials kit which will be given to the teachers in targeted areas to teach children about the car industry dealing with design for safety and alternative fueling systems.
  4. Develop competitions dealing with automotive bumper and /or seatbelt design for passenger safety given certain restrictions.



The Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems (CAVS) at Mississippi State University (MSU) is teaming with the local school districts and the Mississippi Children’s Museum to develop a sophisticated Science & Technology area in the form of workshops in the museum with teachers to inspire young minds to explore the worlds of math, science, and engineering. We will create powerful interactive learning/teaching kits for K-12 students with a program based upon materials design, which will be supported by the American Society of Metals (ASM). It is worth explaining the Mission Eggcellence notion further as illustrative of our other ideas. Mission Eggcellence provides students with a hands-on introduction into vehicular crashworthiness through applying basic concepts of physics (students are provided with simple definitions from physics such as mass, velocity, momentum and energy, and how they are used during a crash), explanations of what actually happens during a crash (using the physics terms and defining what is necessary to enable passengers to survive a crash), and examples of safety devices (explanations and examples of some devices such as bumpers, seatbelts, airbags and safety cages, used in cars and trucks, with simulations to demonstrate how they work). Other explanations provided will include manufacturer goals (creating a vehicle that is lightweight for the cheapest price possible, creating a vehicle that demonstrates good fuel efficiency, creating a vehicle that is aesthetically pleasing in appearance) versus consumer goals (a vehicle that is strong enough to protect passengers from impact, a vehicle that is light enough to provide economical fuel consumption, a vehicle that has a pleasing appearance, a vehicle that has a memory of its shape and can be repaired faster, cheaper, and easier) and the difficulties involved in balancing these requirements. Vehicles, materials, eggs, workbooks/worksheets, and instructions will be provided to the students with which they must design a safety barrier for each team’s vehicle that will prevent the egg from breaking upon impact during an impact competition. The vehicles are released upon a ramp, which is elevated to a higher degree of angle, from 15 degrees to 70 degrees, at each step of the impact competition, and the vehicle(s) in which the eggs do not break can win. The winners are determined by the lightweight designs. Competitions are expected to be state wide. Undergraduates and graduate students will play a large role in communicating the principles and overseeing the activities. They will also be used to help monitor the tournaments and mentor some of the K-12 students.

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Each curriculum consists of eight grade-appropriate experiments for the physics concepts of velocity, acceleration, Newton’s Third Law, momentum, impulse, elastic and inelastic collisions. These experiments include a bumper design and a car design. In the bumper design competitions for grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12, the bumper is tested by rolling a wooden car, with the bumper attached, down a ramp using a raw egg as the passenger. The winner is the one that can endure the steepest incline without cracking the egg. The tie breaker is the lightest mass. In the K-2 and 3-5 car design competitions, a car is designed using K’ NEX pieces from a kit. The 6-8 and 9-12 car design competitions use a car designed from balsa wood. Winner is steepest incline with egg intact. The tie breaker again is the lightest mass.

Academic/Research Excellence Basis

An overarching theme of multidisciplinary design integration motivates our research as well as our multilevel educational activities in K-PhD and continuing education. Our educational approach is structured to overcome the knowledge compartmentalization and overspecialization of traditional technical education that stand as barriers to the implementation and dissemination of science-based engineering. Core university collaborations seek to empower a broad range of students, through a fusion of exciting new science-based tools with design habits of mind, team creativity, and effective multidisciplinary communication. Our Mission Eggcellence design project work will be enhanced by the emerging technology of a distributed web-based collaborative environment. We have a clear education accountability structure administered by the CAVS Chair Professor, Mark Horstemeyer. In addition, MSU CAVS has a strong extension/outreach center in which quick implementation of research is plausible.

Contributions to the Long-Term and Sustainable Engagement of the Team/Unit

MSU is developing an “Automotive Experience” strategic program that includes K-12, undergraduate work, and graduate level work. A new course and certificate are being developed in real time for this endeavor. For MSU to have an excellent PhD pool, we need to have aligned in the pipeline K-12 students. We are viewing these grant funds as start-up funds only, but the program will continue long into the future.

From the DOE-SRCLID Statement of Program Objectives, the transfer of knowledge obtained from the leading-edge research to K-12 educational programs is a core requirement: CAVS is required to develop an educational program to integrate lightweighting design concepts with crashworthiness into student curricula. Hence, the K-12 program is key for the K-PhD program that is progressing at CAVS for crashworthiness and safety. Specific subtasks include:

  1. Develop crash kits for K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12.
  2. Develop competitions with crash kits for Mississippi wide contests.
  3. Publish a resource book with experiments, competitions, and video directions.
  4. Assist in the development of modules for Mississippi Children’s Museum.

The Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems (CAVS) will design materials kits and crash kits with their associated documentation (student and instructor) and provide engineering specialists as keynote speakers, trainers, and lecturers. Rosemary Cuicchi (retired teacher – 32 years experience) and Dr. Paul Cuicchi (retired Physics teacher – 33 years experience and MS Teacher of the Year 2002) is involved in developing the program. We are planning on including ASM to broaden the program further. Nissan North America (Canton, MS) and Vista Engineering Inc. have both donated in-kind contributions to the SRCLID program with specific interest in the educational development aspects of the program. The Mississippi Children’s Museum administrators and staff will be involved in designing and setting up the exhibits within the museum, as well as establishing agendas for exhibit changes. Dr. Mark Horstemeyer is helping design the regions within the children’s museum to help explain the math, science, and engineering aspects.



The program will be evaluated both internally by MSU staff and externally by partnering organizations, committee members, and visitor surveys. External evaluations will be completed through a teacher and a student evaluation form. In addition, staff will track the number of the following:

  1. Individuals who participated in the special events, workshops, and programming;
  2. Number of events we will participate in during the next year.

Making a difference within the community and the university

University metrics will demonstrate the effectiveness of the program by showing increases in students coming to MSU, and other colleges and universities, in the fields of math, science and engineering. Within the community, we expect to see a higher rate of students becoming involved in math, science, and engineering, and in the long run, we expect to see more high-tech companies moving into the state as a result of this program. That is, if we increase the rates of students in math, science, and engineering, indicating a more highly educated future work force, the number of incoming high-tech companies will increase.

Priorities and Intended Outcomes

The priorities of this project are thoroughly integrated within the mission and vision of CAVS, especially as defined by the DOE-SRCLID Statement of Program Objectives (SOPO). Specifically, the transfer of knowledge obtained from the leading-edge research to K-12 educational programs via developing an educational program to integrate lightweighting design concepts with crashworthiness into student curricula will be accomplished by developing crash kits for appropriate educational levels and by fostering state and regional tournaments to further interest in the technology and resultant designs. The intended outcome will be increased numbers of students at all educational levels who will have a deeper understanding of math, science, and engineering as well as an appreciation of these fields of study in real-world applications.

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The Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems (CAVS), MSU, the CAVS Extension (Canton), and the community will integrate into a synergistic teaming effort to provide staff, volunteers, time, money, basic research, materials, equipment, technology, and partners to ensure the success of this program Outputs – What Will We Do? Personnel from the core facilities mentioned above will conduct workshops and meetings, will deliver services, will develop products and curriculum, will provide resources, will provide training, will provide counseling, will assess the program and its effectiveness, will work with the partnering organizations, and will work with media to ensure proper dissemination of information to the public. Who Will We Reach? We will reach participants (children, parents, and teachers), providing satisfaction feedback. Outcomes – Impacts – Short Term: We anticipate an increased interest by students in math, science, and engineering as demonstrated by improved learning, awareness, knowledge, attitudes, skills, opinions, and motivations, all a result of student participation in the workshops, et cetera.

Outcomes – Impacts – Medium Term

We anticipate seeing an increase in museum student participation (Actions), an increase in classroom participation (Practice), an increase in understanding, and application of lessons-learned by students in their respective schools, an increase in awareness of potential impacts upon society of vehicle lightweighting and crashworthiness (Social Action), and an increase in students interested in math, science, and engineering.


Outcomes – Impacts – Long Term

We anticipate students graduating from their respective schools and entering colleges and universities to pursue degrees in math, science, and engineering who will have a stronger working knowledge and understanding of math, science, and engineering as they relate to societal/behavioral, economic, civic and environmental impacts. We also anticipate seeing an increase in the number of high-tech companies moving to Mississippi, as a result of having a more informed and more highly educated student labor based from which future employees can be selected.


The effectiveness of this program will be determined by follow-up investigations and over time to collect data, to analyze and to interpret the data, and to report on the increase in students who enroll in institutions of higher learning in the fields of math, science, and engineering.


The Mission Eggcellence Program has been developed for the grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. The Teacher Workshop for these grades has been very successful. One hundred sixty-seven 167 teachers have participatee in the teacher workshops. Eight hundred fifty-eight students have competed in the student competitions. Seventy-five percent of the teachers who attended the workshop had students compete in both the bumper design and car design competitions. Feedback was excellent.

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