The Egg-crushing Egg-speriment

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We visited The Butterfly Place two weeks ago where we witnessed three-hour-old Chinese painted quail chicks.  They were so tiny and fuzzy bumbling around near their olive-sized eggs taking cover with their Dad.  Awesome!

The field trip reminded me to try this simple egg-speriment from Steve Spangler Science.  We all LOVED it!  I simplified it for my young kids so if you’d like more detail, go directly to his site.

Here’s what you need:

  1.  At least one raw egg.  We used an even dozen.  The kids were so stunned at how they could control how the egg cracked and how the insides felt so cold and slippery.  They really enjoyed playing with them.

    What is it about kids and their joy in the messiness of life?

  2. A bowl.
  3. A knife.

Wrap your hand completely around the egg and squeeze as hard as you can.  After the two older kids and their friend did this, I tried it too.

None of us could crush it!  Our UPS man, who thought we were weird for asking him, could not crush it either.

Eggscellent.

Eggscellent.

Then, we held the egg between our pointer finger at the top and the thumb at the bottom and squeezed as hard as we could.  No cracking!

I'm crushing your egg.

I’m crushing your egg.

Next, we tapped the egg with the edge of the knife.  The idea is to concentrate the sharp edge on a tiny part of the shell so it will crack it.  As we tap, tap, tapped, we noticed the shell breaking apart.

Now, the questions:  How is it that a whole hand could not crack the shell but one tiny little point could?  And why?  (Hint:  it has to do with even forces like Dad sitting on the egg vs. uneven forces, like, say, a beak pecking at a small piece of the shell).

The link above includes a whole explanation.  You can also see a video of the experiment here.

This is a great experiment for talking about the anatomy of an egg as well as its nutritional value and purpose.  My kids would have listened to anything as long as I let them squish around in those slippery eggs!

Check out one of the other egg experiments we’ve tried at The Bouncin’ Egg.

If you’d rather see Chinese Painted Quail chicks hatching, check this out:

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