Springtime Science: How Strong is an Egg Shell?

Treat your budding scientists to some science-based learning this spring, starting with something you probably have right in your refrigerator – a carton of eggs! You can find many egg-based experiments online, but here’s a simple one to get you started:

What you’ll need:

4 eggs, play dough, a stack of similar sized books, and newspapers or a baking tray (to contain the broken eggs)

Before you start:

Ask your child to share her observations about eggshells. Are eggshells strong? How easy is it to break one? What would happen if you dropped an egg on the floor? Would he expect an eggshell to break if you placed something heavy on it?

The experiment:

To keep the eggs from rolling away during the experiment, ask your child to create a nest-shaped base out of play dough to cradle each egg, and a small play dough “lid” for each egg top (with a flat surface where you’ll place the books). Position the four eggs with their bases and tops at the corners of your newspaper or baking pan work area, slightly inside where you expect the books to sit. Then, one at a time, place the books carefully on top of the eggs. Ask if your child thinks the eggs can handle more weight. Then, add another book to test her prediction, until the eggs begin to break.

Learning from the results:

Eggs can hold much more weight than most people predict–generally staying intact until four to eight heavy books are placed on top. Ask your child if the eggs were as delicate as he expected. If not, what does she think gives the eggs their strength? Hint: The key is the dome shape of an egg, which holds much more weight than a flat surface. This is why arches and domes are often used in cathedrals and governmental buildings with tall ceilings. The dome shape also allows a hen to sit on the egg without breaking it.

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