New Spirit of St. Louis® EGGS PRIZE®

The New Spirit of St. Louis® EGGS PRIZE® is a middle-school contest modeled after the $10 million Ansari XPRIZE, and is the first model of an education initiative based on a prize. The contest is designed to support the middle school learning experience. The curriculum, designed by Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning (McRel) prepares students for the competition with a series of activities in the form of real-world design scenarios. Each activity focuses student design teams on the math, science, and technology concepts required to solve a design problem over an eight-week period. Because it was intended to mirror the real world Ansari XPRIZE, The New Spirit of St. Louis EGGS PRIZE is unique and its content applicable to a variety of students, teachers and settings. And you won't believe the fun!

To be a New Spirit of St. Louis EGGS PRIZE winner you have to launch a water rocket that you built to an altitude of at least 30 meters (98.4 feet). Instead of a human payload, you have to launch a raw egg to this altitude aboard your water rocket. The egg has to survive the flight unbroken. Then within two days, you have to relaunch your egg once again to at least 30 meters (98.4 feet) and have the egg survive the second flight as well.

This website will not be actively updated, but the curriculum for this competition is provided in the following Teacher Guide  PDF].

A Curriculum Module

The New Spirit of St. Louis EGGS PRIZE Curriculum Module is designed to accompany the Ansari X PRIZE Competition. To win the Ansari XPRIZE, teams of aerospace engineers and entrepreneurs must design a reusable space vehicle that will take three passengers 100 kilometers (62 miles) into space on a suborbital trip, then return to earth. The vehicle must be able to be relaunched without substantial changes within two weeks. Open to non-governmental agencies from all over the world, the intent of this competition is to make space travel affordable for the general public.

In the New Spirit of St. Louis EGGS PRIZE Curriculum Module, students experience the same technology design and construction challenges faced by the aerospace engineers vying for the Ansari XPRIZE. The model the students will use includes a water-filled 2-liter soft drink bottle for the rocket and a raw egg for the passenger. Students will design fins, payload protection, nosecone, and recovery systems to add to the basic bottle, and will determine the relative amounts of water and compressed air to propel the water bottle rocket. Design teams will test their rocket and payload protection system with an exciting outdoor launch. In addition to experiencing the processes of design, construction, and testing of a simple rocket system, students will learn many physical science concepts. They will record their experimental results and summarize their conclusions in a journal. Each student will become an expert in one aspect of project design, and will participate in communicating that knowledge to a Design Group. Assessment of standards-aligned learning is embedded in each lesson.

Although instruction and construction are done inside, testing is an outdoor activity. Safety is a significant concern in these lessons. Safety guidelines are included where appropriate in each activity, and an entire lesson is devoted to specific safety procedures involved with rocketry. Sponge activities are offered so that teachers can make use of days when outdoor activities had been scheduled but the weather became inclement. Extension activities are available for use by students who need more challenge or teachers who wish to delve more deeply into the material being presented.

The authors and supporters of this curriculum module wish to extend their thanks to the field test teachers who helped refine the lessons. These teachers found that their students were able to learn science content and practice science processes in a real-world context. Local publicity about New Spirit of St. Louis EGGS PRIZE events showed the public that schools were providing basic education to students that would benefit them all their lives.


The purpose of the Exploration phase of this learning cycle is to engage students in the content they will be studying during the Concept Development and Application phases. They will access prior knowledge about rocketry, learn important safety and altitude tracking skills, and experience the excitement of launching a 2-liter plastic bottle filled with water and compressed air. This bottle will be the frame of the rocket they will design as a Design Group team.

Concept Development

During the Concept Development phase of the learning cycle, students learn new content and practice using it to consolidate their basic understanding. The context for the New Spirit of St. Louis EGGS PRIZE lessons is designing a water-and-compressed-air-powered rocket that carries a raw egg to a significant height and returns it safely to the ground both times.

The standards-based content that is to be learned in this context includes aspects of physical science, technological design, and science processes.

Students will model an actual aerospace project by working in both Design and Expert teams. Members of Expert Groups will conduct experiments to test hypotheses about various models of rocket fins, nosecones, recovery systems, payload protection systems, and propulsion mixtures. Their individual expertise, developed through interpretation of experimental results and in collaboration with fellow experts, will later be communicated to a Design Group during the Application phase of the learning cycle.


In the Application phase of this learning cycle, students use the conceptual knowledge and skills acquired in the Concept Development phase to produce a product. In the New Spirit of St. Louis EGGS PRIZE lessons, that product is a functional rocket and payload protection system. Having developed specific expertise during the Concept Development activities, individual experts will combine their knowledge as members of a Design Team, which will design and construct a rocket to accomplish the assigned task. If the classroom teacher chooses to have the student teams participate in the New Spirit of St. Louis EGGS PRIZE Challenge, the second launch can serve as the competition. Participants in the program win small prizes and national recognition for their scientific discoveries and engineering efforts. Students who complete are the aerospace engineers of tomorrow.

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