Fun with science and eggs

Discover science through food activities.

When working with children, even simple household items can be used to explore science. 

Chicken eggs are a perfect medium for a variety of experiments according to Michigan State University Extension.  Discussing the structure of an egg provides a terrific lesson in itself.  In an experiment by the Imagination Station called the Naked Egg, children are able to see what an egg looks like without a shell.  They learn the chemical composition of the shell and how it is affected by acid.  The shell of an egg is made up of primarily calcium carbonate. If an egg is soaked in vinegar (which is about 4 percent acetic acid), a chemical reaction is created that dissolves the calcium carbonate shell. The acetic acid reacts with the calcium carbonate in the egg shell and releases carbon dioxide gas that the children will see as bubbles on the shell.  The inside of the egg remains intact and is held together by two fragile membranes just inside the shell.

A second experiment that is sure to intrigue children is an egg in a bottle.  With this activity the physical principals of air expansion and compression with heat are explored when an egg is boiled and the shell is removed. Children will love hypothesizing how, and why the egg was sucked inside the bottle; this provides a perfect opportunity to explain that scientists do the same process by making hypotheses and creating experiments to prove or disprove their guesses.

Lastly Steve Spangler Science provides a dynamic walking on eggs activity that youth are sure to enjoy.  In this exciting experiment children will learn to actually walk on eggs.  It allows you to discuss engineering concepts with children.  The egg’s unique shape gives it tremendous strength. Eggs are similar in shape to a three-dimensional arch, one of the strongest architectural forms.

The National 4-H Program encourages adults to use inquiry-based learning methods while working with children.  To do so the adults should refrain from giving answers to youth, but instead encourage them to seek answers to questions.  This can be done by asking open-ended questions.  Use terms that encourage discussion and interaction such as explain and compare if or what if possibilities.  It is important to remember that the adult’s attitude toward science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) has an impact on children’s attitude.  Youth who are around adults who show interest and enthusiasm for STEM will be more likely to develop the enthusiasm themselves. 

For more information about Michigan 4-H Youth Development, visit the Science Literacy website.

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