The Egg Drop Challenge Team-Building Activity: Instructions and Alternatives

Throwing an egg from a building doesn’t feel like it would teach any valuable skills.

But the Egg Drop Challenge is used everywhere from kids STEM sessions to corporate team building days. It’s quick, it’s fun, and you don’t need any expensive kit to do it. And done right, it can be made to foster valuable skills like communication, collaboration, iterative design, and more.

If you’re a facilitator looking to run the Egg Drop Challenge, this blog is for you. We’ll introduce the activity, give instructions to run it properly, and explore some more effective ways to build these and other skills.

Here’s what you’ll find in this blog post:

Download your FREE Egg drop challenge resources


What is the Egg Drop Challenge

The Egg Drop Challenge is a popular team building exercise that puts engineering principles into practice in a simple, enjoyable way. 

The goal is simple: each team builds a contraption to protect an egg, then all contraptions are dropped from a specified height. Each surviving egg is in with a chance of winning.

Facilitators like this activity because it’s easy to run and doesn’t require complicated or expensive gear. It’s also easy to adjust the difficulty to meet the skill level of any group of participants, from young kids in a STEM context right through to high level professionals at team building events. It also works great as an icebreaker.

There are also plenty of ways to tie the Egg Drop Challenge to other activities where the learning outcomes can be explored in more detail and used to create lasting change.

Note: 

  • If you’re not using it as an icebreaker, the Egg Drop Challenge is only really suitable for introductory exploration of concepts
  • There’s information about how to use the Egg Drop Challenge for team building below, but you can click here to jump straight to the instructions
  • Or if you need something more powerful, check out MTa Insights: our flagship experiential learning kit with 53 activities to deliver lasting learning across communication, leadership, problem solving and other key areas

How to use the Egg Drop Challenge for team building

In this activity team members discuss potential designs, advocate for their ideas, and work together to arrive at a solution. This initial design can then be tested, allowing them to observe performance, refine the design based on observations, and re-test. By the time the egg is dropped, their contraption will likely have had several trial runs and refinements.

Then, in the traditional rules, the activity is over after the eggs are dropped. Broken eggs lose, intact eggs win. Participants have little opportunity (or incentive) to reflect on what worked well and what didn’t, limiting the value of the activity as a tool for lasting learning. 

But rejigging the rules slightly to make use of the experiential learning methodology lets facilitators escape the limiting binary at the heart of the activity. Alongside the design process, a team dynamic will evolve between the participants. By using structured review (part of the experiential learning methodology: more on this later), facilitators can help teams to observe, discuss, and reflect upon different behaviours and how they contributed to the team dynamic. Repeating the activity with these insights can lead to lasting learning in important areas of teamwork.

With this in mind, making the Egg Drop Challenge more effective for team building relies on giving teams the opportunity to iterate their design and, more importantly, the way they work together, both before and after dropping the egg. Encourage review after the first drop, and give teams the space to refine their design and their behaviour based on observations, discussions, and reflections. Introduce new rules (higher drops, fewer materials, etc) if you want to adjust the level of challenge and increase the likelihood of new behaviours emerging.

This simple variation to the format changes it from a fun but forgettable icebreaker to an engaging introduction to experiential learning.

How does the Egg Drop Challenge help with teamwork?

The Egg Drop Challenge can be used to let participants explore the following aspects of teamwork:

  • Advocating for your own ideas, influencing others
  • Listening and communication
  • Valuing others’ contributions
  • Asking questions
  • Collaboration

The Egg Drop Challenge instructions

Here’s how to run the Egg Drop Challenge in 10 simple steps. These instructions are built around experiential learning principles, and include guidance for facilitators on how to set the parameters of the activity to deliver meaningful learning outcomes.

  1. Download your resources
  2. Get your equipment
  3. Brief participants and split them into teams
  4. Optional: outline any additional rules
  5. Give teams time to build
  6. Drop the eggs
  7. Evaluate the condition of the eggs 
  8. Structured review
  9. Optional: repeat steps 4-8 as many times as you need
  10. Optional: Announce the winner(s)

Full instructions below:

Step 1: Download your resources

You can run the activity without them but our free resources will make it easier for you!

Step 2: Get your equipment

One of the reasons this activity is so popular is that you can use pretty much anything to run it. There’s a list of possible materials you could use below, which you can use as inspiration:

  • Balloons
  • Straws
  • Sellotape
  • Newspaper
  • String
  • Carrier bags
  • Plastic bags

Our variation uses plastic straws and Sellotape as the only building materials. If you decide to vary the rules, make sure you get hold of the required materials (for example: carrier bags and string if you’re allowing parachutes)

And don’t forget – eggs!

Step 3: Brief participants and split them into teams

Either use the briefing slides you download in step 1, or run participants through the rules as follows:

  • You must build a contraption to protect your egg
  • All eggs will then be dropped from the same height: out of a 2nd storey window
  • Any team whose egg breaks is not eligible to win
  • If multiple teams’ eggs are intact, the contraption that uses the fewest materials (by weight) wins 
  • You have 20 minutes to plan and build your contraption
  • There will then be a structured review phase

Note: you can adjust the time limit, drop height, and win criteria to suit your needs. We’ve recommended a 2nd storey window as a good balance between realistic and challenging: if this isn’t suitable for the location you’re running the activity, adjust accordingly).

We recommend teams of 3-5  to maximise the likelihood of lively discussion. 

Step 4: Optional: outline any additional rules

There are a number of ways to adjust the level of challenge of this activity. We’ve included some suggestions later in the blog post – click here to check them out.

If you’re adding any rules, communicate them clearly to participants, and ensure you’ve revised the equipment in step 2 accordingly. 

Step 5: Give teams time to build

Let teams get on with it. Where relevant, refer them to the rules for any questions they might have, or to the process intervention questions later in this post to guide thinking if they’re stuck. Otherwise encourage them to solve problems within the team.

Step 6: Drop the eggs

Once you call time on the building phase, either collect all the contraptions or get a designated member of each team to follow you to the drop site.

Be careful to drop each egg contraption from the same height, and ensure you just release your grip on it rather than pushing it downward.

Ideally you’ll have someone on the ground at the landing site to monitor the landings. If so, you may want to get them to take a photo of each egg.

Step 7: Evaluate the condition of the eggs 

Once all the eggs are dropped you can head to the landing site and see how things went. Traditionally any teams with broken eggs lose, but there may be discussion about eggs with superficial cracks, etc. Pick a definition of ‘broken’ and stick with it: you’re the facilitator! 

Step 8: Structured review

Here’s where the activity starts to become a valuable learning tool. Get each participant to fill out a Participant Review Sheets (included in the downloadable resources), then convene for a group discussion. Guide discussion around what people feel went well and what didn’t, both in terms of the design process and team dynamics. When running the Egg Drop Challenge as a team building activity, we highly recommend placing significant emphasis on the team dynamics.

Step 9: Optional: repeat steps 4-8 as many times as you need

After a structured review, you can repeat the activity. Teams whose eggs broke will need to rethink their design, and teams with intact eggs may want to make improvements or refinements. But the main focus is for participants to consider their behaviour, to avoid behaviours identified as unhelpful, and to aspire to alternatives identified as helpful. By making a concerted effort to experiment with new behaviours or develop existing ones, participants can consolidate the learning from the review and lay the groundwork for lasting behavioural change.

Step 10: Optional: announce the winner(s)

When using an experiential learning approach, the process becomes more important than the outcome. Participants will be motivated and excited to explore their learning, and may be less interested in the traditional win criteria (i.e., whose eggs survived?)

We do recommend announcing a winner. If you followed our suggestion, the winner will either be the sole surviving egg, or the team with the lightest contraption if there were multiple survivors.

We then recommend ending the activity with a reminder that the real outcome of the activity was the learning, ideally spotlighting some examples of where behavioural changes prompted by the structured reviews improved a team’s dynamic.

Downloads to help you run the Egg Drop Challenge

Below you’ll find a form where you can download full instructions to run the Egg Drop Challenge effectively. These are formatted in the style of our activity manuals, and include in-depth facilitator instructions, a slide deck for briefing participants, and participant review worksheets to build on the basic learning outcomes the activity makes possible.

If you’re looking for other activities to build teams and develop skills, take a look at our experiential learning kits or get in touch with our team today – will be happy to give you a recommendation.

Download your FREE Egg Drop Challenge resources 👇


Five additional rules to make the Egg Drop Challenge more interesting

The Egg Drop Challenge is very adaptable, making it a great choice for facilitators who want to mix things up between groups (or between drops if you’re doing multiple with the same group!)

Here are some suggested twists on the traditional rules to challenge groups and make learning reviews more interactive.

Rule 1: No parachutes!

Many teams will quickly realise that slowing the egg down as it falls will lead to a better outcome. Banning parachutes is a good way to up the challenge and encourage creative thinking in a different direction.

Rule 2: No cushioning materials!

Some teams try to cram as much protective material around the egg as possible, whether it be packing pellets, popcorn, or something else. By banning this approach you again encourage creativity in a less obvious direction.

Rule 3: Only straws!

“But how can you protect an egg with straws?!” we hear you cry. The question itself is good proof that this rule makes things even trickier, forcing teams to think about impact, distribution of forces, and other intriguing engineering concepts.

Watch for teams who build contraptions with straws that don’t point directly at the egg. This is a surefire way for things to backfire, as the straws puncture the egg on impact.

Rule 4: Lightest wins!

Adjusting the win criteria makes the Egg Drop Challenge more interesting. Instead of winning if your egg survives, you can award victory to whichever team with an intact egg has the lightest contraption. This rewards innovative thinking and an iterative design process, and penalises teams who try to encase their egg in as much padding as possible.

Rule 5: Six eggs!

You can either run this as a relay, i.e. how quickly can you get six eggs to descend in the same contraption, or as a simultaneous drop for 6 eggs, each in contraptions with different designs.

Both of these variations up the ante, and the increased stress may bring out different behaviours from the traditional version. This gives participants and the facilitator an opportunity to discuss the impact of stress and challenge on behaviour: a great prompt to explore with more advanced groups.

Egg drop challenge tactics: powerful questions to catalyse your participants’ thinking

Are your participants struggling with their design? If so, these process intervention questions will guide their thinking and get things on track:

  • What cushioning material are you using? Prompt them to think about how fragile things get packaged when they go in the post. What materials are used? Why are they used? Which ones would be suitable for protecting an egg?
  • What will the shape of your contraption be? Prompt them to think about what shapes stand out right away, and why. The obvious choices aren’t always the most efficient. But when you’re protecting an egg, what determines efficiency?
  • How can you influence the speed of the fall? Prompt them to think about the riskiest part of the operation (the impact), and how they can change the speed of impact. What would you want attached to you if you jumped out of a plane?
  • How can you influence the duration of the impact? Prompt them to consider whether the egg has to splat onto the ground in one big unceremonious moment, or whether there’s a way to spread the impact out slightly? What might the benefits be of doing so?
  • Have you thought about puncture load? Prompt them to think about whether their contraption is a source of risk for the structural integrity of the egg. Impact force needs to be moved away from the egg to protect it – think about whether the contraption achieves this.

Limitations of the Egg Drop Challenge

The Egg Drop Challenge is popular because it’s easy to facilitate, it’s fun, and it’s engaging. But even though it does explore some good team building and design concepts, it’s limited in its overall value for a few reasons.

Firstly, traditional rules dictate that once you drop the eggs the activity is over. This gives zero opportunity for individuals to reflect on what worked and what didn’t, both in terms of design or team dynamics. There is also no opportunity to put the results of this reflection to the test by trying again.

Secondly, there are far better ways to explore and develop team building and design concepts. Activities that are built from the ground up to explore these concepts are much better at delivering real, meaningful learning. For facilitators looking to develop these skills with participants, we’d recommend using experiential learning activities designed specifically to do so.

The best Egg Drop Challenge alternatives

The egg drop is great but it has limitations. If you want team building activities without limitations, built around the impactful experiential learning methodology, here are some suggestions.

For adults: the Teamwork Level 2 Manual from MTa Insights

MTa Insights is our flagship experiential learning kit, with 53 activities split out across Manuals that focus on particular sets of skills.

The Teamwork Level 2 Manual is perfect for facilitators looking to develop team building skills, whether as part of a team development program or as part of a wider training program. It contains 8 activities designed to:

  • enhance and develop core team concepts, skills and behaviours 
  • introduce some of the attitudes and behaviours that are needed in more challenging team situations 
  • deepen insights into the influence of personal attitudes and drivers when working with others 

To learn more about the Teamwork Level 2 Manual in MTa Insights, get in touch with our team today. We’ll be happy to talk through your objectives and recommend the most suitable experiential activities to deliver lasting, impactful learning.

For young people: the MTa STEM Kit

The Egg Drop Challenge is great for young people: it’s fun, exciting, and able to deliver meaningful learning if done correctly.

For facilitators looking to deliver impactful, lasting learning for young people, we recommend the MTa STEM Kit.

This kit contains 24 powerful and engaging STEM activities to inspire young people, and to cultivate skills and competencies that will prepare them for their careers, and for the world.

  • Activities from 10 minutes to an hour
  • Introductory to advanced level
  • Ideal as standalone activities or for comprehensive workshops
  • Suitable for ages 10-18
  • Suitable for 5-30 participants

Our team are also on hand to answer any questions you have about the MTa STEM Kit: get in touch today.