Great Eggspectations

Employees Celebrate National Egg Day with a Little Fun!

Some people like their eggs over easy. Others prefer theirs hard boiled. At Tata & Howard it seems we like our eggs scrambled!

In recognition of National Egg Day (June 3, 2018), Tata & Howard employees competed in an Egg Drop Challenge. The Egg Drop Contest is a collaborative engineering activity that tests one’s creative problem-solving skills.  And not to get too technical, the Challenge is also a test in the understanding of physics, fluid dynamics, motion, the forces of gravity, and much more.  Working together on these egg structures is also a fun and engaging team-building activity.

The Challenge

After dividing into teams, each group was tasked with creating a structure that could protect an egg from breaking when dropped from a 10-foot height—or at least one story—onto a solid floor.

Team begins workUsing ordinary office supplies (plus an uncooked chicken egg), to build their egg protective packages, teams could use as many or as few of the materials and were free to cut, tear, or break any of the pieces. The time to create the egg structures lasted 20 minutes. After the creating phase was over, it was time to drop the eggs.

This is the time when teams often crack under pressure.

Down They Go

Kevin LaunchesFrom the second floor of our Waterbury, CT office, two teams dropped their eggs onto the sidewalk below.  Upon closer examination, not one of the eggs survived the fall.  In the case of a tie, as in this case since both eggs broke on impact, the team using the least amount of materials was declared the winners. Congratulations to Chelsea, Will, Kevin and Sal who used fewer pieces in the design of their egg packages.

At our Marlborough office, the eggs were dropped from the second floor into the lobby. Each of the four teams carefully suspended their structures over the railing and let go. After the fall, one of the packages oozed liquids, a sign of a broken egg. The other three eggs appeared to have survived the fall showing no obvious signs of breakage.

Failed eggThose three teams then ventured to the third floor and dropped their eggs again.  Sadly, none of the eggs survived the fall from the nearly 30-foot fall. And, although many of the egg structures were still intact, it was clear from the misshapen, leaking packages, the eggs broke on contact.  Fortunately, there was very little mess to clean up since the eggs were all overly wrapped and packaged. It was a tough call, but team Chris and Chrissie shared the winning honors.

Incredible Edible Egg

As fragile as eggs can be, they already come in the perfect little package. Eggs are also one of nature’s best sources of protein and amino acids. Eggs also have no carbohydrates or sugar and just like drinking water, play an important role in nourishing families around the globe. National Egg Day is a great time to celebrate and recognize the importance of eggs in our diets. The Egg Drop Challenge is a fun way to bring awareness to this incredible little health food!

The Egg Drop Challenge

Brown eggThe materials used for the egg drop challenge can be whatever you choose. We opted to use common items found around the office.  Of course, don’t forget the egg!

Each Kit contains:
6 Coffee Sticks
2 sheets – 8 ½ x 11” paper
1 yard of masking tape
1 yard of string
5 rubber bands
1 paper plate
2 paper napkins

Download the instructions

Fun At Work Day 2018

In celebration of Fun at Work Day, Tata & Howard employees took a break from lunch and competed in The Marshmallow Challenge!

Table 5 in deep concentration.

Made popular by TED Talks’ Tom Wujec, The Marshmallow Challenge is simple – teams compete to build the tallest freestanding structure in 18 minutes using only 20 sticks of spaghetti, a yard of tape, a yard of string, and one marshmallow. The marshmallow needs to sit on top of the freestanding structure.

Did we mention the challenge is simple? Well…interestingly the challenge is not as simple as it seems – the marshmallow is pretty heavy! In addition, time ticks away very quickly!

While we were having some ‘Fun at Work’, The Marshmallow Challenge was also a terrific team building exercise and we did learn some valuable lessons.

Key lessons we learned from this challenge:

  1. Teamwork is key. Every team member needed to contribute. Working well together was especially effective and efficient.
  2. Testing the design intent

    Testing: Working out theories and testing materials early in the challenge helped formulate the overall design. However, taking too long in the planning impacted the construction time.

  3. Time Management. As we learned from the testing phase, time management turned out to be an equally important lesson. Teams needed to plan and manage enough time to build the structure.
  4. Innovation: Creativity and originality was really the fun part of this challenge. All teams approached this challenge differently and every structure was unique.

Here’s a blow-by-blow account of the competing teams:

At our Marlborough office five teams competed:

Table 1 planning their structure

Table 1 – Mike, Molly and Maya spent a good part of the time planning and testing. They also exercised good time management and built a very stable structure reaching 15 ½”.

Table 2 – Using all their materials, Katie, Jenna and Meghan built the tallest structure at 16 1/2”. Although not the prettiest to look at, it was very stable and even with vigorous table shaking the tower stood tall!  Winning Team!!

Table 3 – Brian, Maria, and Derek had the sad misfortune of their structure collapsing shamelessly into a ½” pile of broken spaghetti!

Table 4 – Although, James, Mary and Karen’s structure measured 10 1/2” after partially collapsing, they finished with time to spare and managed to have some materials left over!

Table 5 – Adam, Matt and Jim ambitiously engineered a very tall structure, but it sadly collapsed under its own weight.  Still, there were some measurable structural components and came in at 8” high.

At our Waterbury, CT office, two teams competed:

The Seniors at work.

The Seniors (Sal, Bill, Dave and Nan) had an early lead and constructed a fairly stable structure of modest height with about 5 minutes left.  However, their table was jarred, and the structure ended up toppling. They could not re-assemble before time ran out.

The Young professionals (Chelsea, Ryan, Kevin, Will, Natalia) used the early stages to plan the construction and had some good ideas, however, they were a little too ambitious with the final marshmallow top and their structure also collapsed.  In fact, it never really stood at all.  And, the final height of their marshmallow was below the table surface!

Young Professionals make progress.

In less than an hour, the Marshmallow Challenge is a fun way to foster innovation and teamwork. If you’re interested, the challenge rules can be seen here [Marshmallow Challenge Instructions].  Hope you find time to  have fun at work too!

National Fun at Work Day!

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” —Henry Ford

Friday, January 27 is National Fun at Work Day (not to be confused with International Fun at Work Day, which falls on April 1). Because teamwork is one of our core values and we are a 100% employee-owned company, we take teambuilding and fun…seriously? That seems like a bit of an oxymoron, but put it this way – we like to have a good time together!

Tata & Howard celebrated National Fun at Work Day by planning a summer barbecue in January, complete with summer fare, outdoor (but indoor) games, and casual attire. To start the festivities in our corporate office in Marlborough, Massachusetts, we fired up the gas grills in the parking lot and cooked burgers, including beef, turkey, and veggie. While it was a little chilly and windy outside, there was no rain or snow, and the smell of grilled food was certainly reminiscent of a warm summer day. EOs contributed by bringing in their favorite summer barbecue dishes, including pulled chicken, slow-cooked ribs, pasta salad, chips, and dips. Even the desserts were summer-themed – popsicles and ice cream cake, in addition to cookies and brownies. Once EOs finished up their lunches, they participated in some outdoor games – inside! Steve Landry once again showed his gaming expertise by capturing the title of cornhole champion, while Karen Gracey learned how to play Lawn Yahtzee for the first time. Phil MacClellan, a seasoned dice expert, scored the day’s only Yahtzee.

Lawn Yahtzee and corn hole were the games of choice in our corporate office.
Phil MacClellan scored the day’s only Yahtzee!
Katie Carreira and Mike Quint played corn hole while Steve Daunais and Matt Barry finished lunch.
Mike Kaczowka tried valiantly for a Yahtzee, but didn’t quite hit the mark.
Matt Barry helped grill some burgers while Karen Gracey shivered!
Lunch was plentiful and delicious.

At our Waterbury, Connecticut office, EOs agreed that the big food hit of the day was Dave Lombardo’s delicious pulled pork. Other offerings included baked beans, chicken wings, potato salad, cole slaw, cornbread, and donuts. Showing innovation even during fun activities, Waterbury EOs decided to create their own office version of cornhole using empty boxes of various sizes and plan paper weights. Nobody is quite sure who won, except that it definitely wasn’t Steve Rupar – he may want to stick to water audits!

Empty boxes at the end of a hallway coupled with plan weights made up Waterbury’s cornhole game!
Waterbury EOs enjoyed barbecue prior to game time.
Steve Rupar tried his hand at corn hole, and Jack Keefe’s face tells the story of how Steve did!
We captured an action shot of our newest EO, Chelsea Henderson.

Maine may be known for its brutal winters, but that didn’t deter our Portland, Maine EOs from braving the elements to have an outdoor barbecue. Dan Bishop manned the grill and cooked hot dogs, sausages, and burgers, and team members joined him outside for some fresh air and camaraderie. Other fare included homemade pickles, dips, and veggie offerings. Paul Cote even wore his favorite Hawaiian shirt to add some extra summer flare.

The Portland, Maine office was all smiles during their summer in January barbecue.
Dan Bishop did a fabulous job manning the grill.

During our Fun at Work Day activities, there were a lot of smiles and laughs, and afterwards we all went back to work feeling refreshed – and quite full! EOs overwhelmingly agreed that the day’s activities were very fun, and we all enjoyed spending some quality downtime together. Did your team participate in Fun at Work Day? We’d love to hear how you celebrated!