A very lucky 6 year old who currently lives rent free in my house, was given for Christmas, a subscription to a magazine called Whizz Pop Bang. This magazine is aimed at getting kids excited about science through really well-drawn cartoons, quizzes, experiments to do at home, and precisely zero ads for plastic children’s toys. It’s the last bit that really convinced me.
Every now and then, I take time off during the school holidays from my rather kids-unfriendly science (my lasers are all at about 6yr old eye height) to do science at home instead. And this time I’ve lifted all my experiments from the Whizz Pop Bang magazine because a) all the experiments I wanted to do were vetoed by the other adult in the house because “I like our kitchen, don’t set it on fire!” and b) my mum was so keen for us to do the experiments she bought us more than 20 eggs. So my choice was either make a GIANT omelet or try them out.
Now before we start I should also mention that I contacted the people at Whizz Pop Bang magazine and mentioned that I was going to try out some of their experiments and write about them. They very kindly offered to provide some freebies for me to give away to my readers. Details on how to get these are at the end of this blog post. But don’t skip ahead yet, there are lots of cool experiments to read about first.
Experiment 1: Crushing eggs
According to the magazine (and also science) eggs are designed to spread any weight put on them over their shell. So if you squeeze an egg, it will take a surprisingly large amount of pressure. So we wrapped some eggs in clingfilm (I trust science but also, egg is hard to get out of stuff) and handed them over to the kids for them to squeeze.
After much squeezing we learnt 2 things : firstly, I should have used small eggs – a 6 year olds hands aren’t really big enough to squeeze something medium egg sized. Secondly, it’s true they really do offset the weight. No eggs were broken 🙂
To then show that if you apply direct force on a small area (by squeezing with two fingers) I squeezed a bit harder and…
From that little follow up experiment we learnt that a) eggs do indeed break from direct pressure, b) one layer of clingfilm isn’t quiet enough to contain the egg, and c) my trousers are very egg absorbent.
Experiment 2: Walking on eggs
Following on from the last experiment, we tried standing on eggs. Initially, I tried to persuade my daughter to go first on this one (she’s about half my son’s weight) but for some reason she was pretty freaked out by her daddy suddenly putting eggs in front of her and asking her to stand on them. Thankfully, my son stepped up and even risked his highly prized Angry Birds socks.
Thanks to the Experiment 1, the kids were fairly unsurprised by the eggs surviving the pressure and were ready to smash them.
Experiment 3: Finding a hardboiled egg
This experiment is fairly simple. You need a raw egg and a hardboiled egg. By the way they spin, you can determine which is which. The liquid in a raw egg moves when it spins, counteracting the force and causing it to judder. The hardboiled egg, being hard doesn’t have this force cancelling effect and spins quite happily.
This experiment took about 5 times longer than any of the other experiments on this list combined. Being a precocious 6 year old, my son had decided which was which before we even spun anything. Then when I explained what the spinning was telling us, he resolutely stuck to his original (and wrong) opinion. Despite the evidence.
I then upgraded the experiment by using clear tubs – one filled with sand, and one filled with water – to unquestionably demonstrate the effect, proving that the liquid one spins slowly.
“But the hard boiled one has a liquid bit in the middle for dipping, that’s why it goes slowest…”
So I then cut open a second hardboiled egg and showed him it was solid all the way through.
“The hardboiled one is heavier…”
I got scales out.
“The hardboiled one has a thicker shell…”
I smashed one and showed him the shell.
“The hardboiled one has a rougher surface making it go slow…”
I oiled the eggs.
At this point he finally ran out of random alternative theories as to why the eggs behaved differently to the clear plastic pots. So instead of continuing with the more evidence based thinking approach, I tried a more direct effect approach of letting him choose which one I would smash on his head. After MUCH more thinking and spinning things and at least two cases of “wait, no, I’ve changed my mind!” he chose…
Experiment 4: Dragon eggs
If there is one ingredient that kids love in any science experiments, it’s food colouring. And dragon eggs are great for a food colouring experiment because not only do the kids get to choose a colour but it makes cool patterns. The idea is pretty simple – the egg shell protects the egg from anything getting in, and you can show this by cracking the shell of a hardboiled egg and then put them (with the shell still on) into food colouring and leaving them overnight. Where the shell is cracked, the food colouring stains the egg white, and where the shell is intact it remains white (err.. ish).
Originally, we had planned to do 4 of these but thanks to Experiment 3 we only had 2 hardboiled eggs left. Still, they worked really well 🙂
Final experiment day results
These were really successful, in fact these had a higher hit rate than the last set of random home science experiments I tried, and the kids absolutely loved doing all of them. They even quite liked eating the dragon eggs which was a plus because neither of them are that crazy about boiled eggs usually. Then again, I’m not sure that feeding them food dye enriched eggs is really the best answer…
So as I mentioned above, the nice people at Whizz Pop Bang magazine have given me six 1 month trial subscriptions to the magazine, to give away as a thank-you for writing this article.
What you need to do to win is Tweet or Facebook me your idea for an egg based home science experiment. It doesn’t have to be one you have designed, it can be one you’ve found elsewhere. I’ll try out the best ones and the magazine subscriptions will go to the best entrants and any small people in their lives. If you win and don’t have a small person to give it to, then either go find a small person to give it to, or channel your inner small person and get experimenting yourself.
Gillian Loake · 13 April 2016 at 14:46
1. place an uncooked egg in vinegar for as long as it takes to dissolve shell to leave just the membrane surrounding the hopefully intact egg
2. demonstrate insulation properties of whipped egg white by making and eating a Baked Alaska.
3 make a folding egg shell http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/lab/experiments/how-to-make-a-folding-egg/
Gillian Loake · 13 April 2016 at 16:30
Demonstrate centrifugal force in action : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2950638/How-make-boiled-egg-INSIDE-Video-reveals-simple-trick-yolk-outside-white-inside.html
Gillian Loake · 13 April 2016 at 18:00
stage 2 of salt/fresh water experiment: float egg in half a glass of very salty water, carefully pour over fresh water, less dense freshwater will stay on top of denser salt water and egg so egg will appear suspended in the glass
Rosie · 15 April 2016 at 13:24
we love to get eggs, write our name on them and then drop them from the roof of our house onto grass/soil. the winner is the one who’s eggs don’t break!
our house is three storeys so it’s quite a long way but we always get a few eggs surviving.
we have also tried designing parachutes from household material but the egg is so well formed that it can survive surprisingly big falls without any help.