Exploring your world: Why are eggshells curved?

Can you walk across eggs without crushing them?

Brown eggs in a brown egg carton.
Image by Erika Varga from Pixabay

The Michigan State University Extension science team’s goal is to increase STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) literacy across Michigan. One way we increase interest in STEM is to provide information and ideas for engaging youth in the exploration of their world.      

Help youth explore eggs by asking them to describe a chicken egg. Ask questions like, what is its shape, color, size? Why do youth think the eggs are curved? Doesn’t it make it easier for the egg to fall out of a nest?

Tell youth that one of the strongest architectural forms is a three-dimensional arch and the egg has a similar shape. Demonstrate the strength of the egg shape by squeezing an egg. Warning: practice first! Remove all rings and wrap your hand completely around the egg. Uneven pressure, like from a ring, will cause the egg to break.

Next, ask youth if they think they could walk across eggs? Allow time to discuss why or why not. Then visit the walking on eggs activity that youth are sure to enjoy. In this exciting experiment, youth will learn to actually walk on eggs. It allows you to discuss engineering concepts with youth. The egg’s unique arch like shape gives it tremendous strength.

After this, take a look inside an egg. In the Naked Egg experiment, youth can see what an egg looks like without a shell. A chicken egg is placed in cup and covered with vinegar for 2-3 days. Vinegar is about 4% acetic acid, and the acid reacts with the calcium carbonate of the chicken egg, releasing carbon dioxide you see as bubbles while leaving the egg intact. Shine a light through the naked egg to see the yolk. You might also notice the naked egg has no air pocket under the membrane. The air pocket found  easily in a hardboiled egg is important for the development of a chick. This pocket filled with water from the vinegar during this experiment through a process called osmosis.

Enjoying hands-on science activities is a wonderful way to spend time with youth! For more information about youth science activities, visit STEM website and click on the Science Activities and Lesson Plans.

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