Classroom Helmet Demos
Summary: Kids like an active demo, and we suggest four: the melon drop, egg drop, lightbulb drop and jello brain. DOT has a very useful guide to some of those, with detailed instructions and photos.
DOT's Demos guideHere is Demonstrating Bicycle Helmet Effectiveness: A How-to Guide put together by the US Department of Transportation. In addition to egg drop, melon drop and hammer demos, it has a Pledge form. It has photos of each step. Don't miss this one.
The Melon DropLooking for a dramatic demo for your next group talk to kids? So was the late Dr. Hal Fenner of the Snell Foundation. He tested various melons for dropping to the floor, one in a helmet and the other bare. Hal concluded that the best melon is a not-too-ripe honeydew. Pumpkins can be better, but finding head-sized ones is difficult.
Take your helmets to the grocery to find the right size honeydew. Shaking the melon tells you which is ripe--you can hear the seeds rattle in a ripe honeydew, so avoid the noisy ones.
Draw smiley faces, or one smiley and one pffffft face on the melons. Hold the helmeted and unhelmeted melons out to your sides, one in each hand, and tip your hands toward the audience to drop them in unison. The unhelmeted honeydew will smash. Whee. The helmet on the other melon will last for three drops, then split on the fourth one, still preventing the melon from smashing.
Hal reported that the kids were impressed, and you have their attention right away.
For a wacky and different angle on this demo, see the Oshtemo Rescue Dept. drop one from a hook and ladder truck. Now that's an attention-getter!
The Jello BrainOnly your imagination limits you in the use of the famous Jello brain mold, a mold that you fill with gray or pink Jello to make a model of the brain. You can order one from Archie McPhee for $7.95 plus shipping. It comes with the recipe for making brain gelatin. For a firmer Jello, you can use the recipe on the side of the Jello box for "Jigglers." The gelatin comes out firm enough to cut into cubes as finger food, so it holds together much better than regular Jello. The Jigglers recipe is on the web.
Here is experience from Dru Malavase, an equestrian helmet advocate:
For more brain mold sources, how to make the Jello and more on the use of them, see our page on gelatin brain molds.
Light Bulb DropWrap a light bulb in heavy duty kitchen plastic wrap. Secure the bottom with a rubber band. Tape the wrapped bulb into a bicycle helmet. Drop the helmet top down from above your head onto a hard, flat surface. The light bulb will not break. Now drop the light bulb without the helmet. The bulb will shatter. Do not use this helmet again for riding, although with only a light bulb inside it should last indefinitely for more demos. Be sure it is marked "demo only - not for riding." Do not use the shattered light bulb either! This demo was developed by Dane Luhrsen, founder of the now-defunct Ride Safe.
The Computer DropMinnesota Safe Kids Coaltion has a description of a computer drop, using a useless computer, camera or other seemingly expensive object and explaining after the drop that it might possibly be fixed, but it would be expensive and time-consuming. Sounds like a shocker!
Egg DropThe Minnesota Safe Kids Coaltion site has instructions for an Egg Drop.
Egg HelmetsSince the Lexington Bicycle Safety Program (Ride and Roll Safely) folded, the only source of egg helmets we have seen was listed on an Edmonton Safe Kids page as:
SE-334 22 Anderstorp, Sweden
Phone: +46 371 180 10
Cost; Approx $3,75 (US)/helmet + freight/customs.
This page was revised on: February 15, 2021.