Harrisburg Academy unveiled the after-school science program “Loose in the Lab” for the 2012-13 academic year and it has been a resounding success!  I have greatly enjoyed guiding our younger students to a better understanding of complex and abstract scientific concepts through hands-on experiments.  In addition to learning, we have lots of fun!

Recently, the students sought to answer the question, “Why don’t hens crush their eggs when they sit on them?”  At first, kids offered up ideas about the hen’s feathers and particular ways of sitting on the eggs.  After some great discussions, someone brought up the idea of the egg having some strength of its own. Yes!  With that we were introduced to the arched shape of the egg, and we had to figure out just how much strength was in this shape.  Of course, a few tests had to be conducted.

First, we stacked and stacked notebooks on top of eggs until they collapsed.  Would you believe it took 10 large binders!  Only two eggs were broken, which students quickly attributed to the slanted surface of the binders, which created uneven pressure.  Next, we had to try a few tests of even pressure.

Kids held the egg by its points between index finger and thumb and SQUEEZED –till they were quite red in the face.  Some kids even joined hands, attempting to increase the pressure.  No breaks!  Really?  Indeed.  This shape is certainly stronger than we first thought.  Next we tested the sides of the egg by interlocking our fingers and squeezing the eggs in the palms of our hands.  Kids joined hands again.  No breaks!  Just how strong is this arch?  At last someone suggested that a chick is able to escape the egg because it is using a pointed beak to create a pressure point on the shell.  Smart kids!

So, our next question became, if the pressure is kept evenly distributed, just how much can an egg take?  Well, walking on them was the best test we could come up with!  Oh, their expressions were priceless!  But, being true scientists, they bravely took on the challenge.  Success! Only three breaks. One was determined to be caused by an overly determined big toe.  Another to poor heel placement.  One egg took a ride in a Kindergartener’s pant cuff!  But, with 20 kids and two adults taking several turns, those eggs stood tough.

If you’re feeliong brave, I definitely think you should try this lab at home.

A few tips:
If you’re squeezing eggs, take off your rings – they create pressure points.
If you’re walking, roll up the pant legs, don’t hesitate or pause, just go! 

As always, enjoy your kids, they are smart and truly incredible!