The Incredible, Nearly Indestructible Egg

Here's your nightly math! Just 5 quick minutes of number fun for kids and parents at home. Read a cool fun fact, followed by math riddles at different levels so everyone can jump in. Your kids will love you for it.

The Incredible, Nearly Indestructible Egg

March 19, 2014

Why not try something egg-citing for the vernal (spring) equinox? Grab an egg and see if you can balance it on a flat surface.

Twice a year, the earth is tilted neither towards nor away from the sun, making the hours of daylight and night approximately equal. There are 24 hours in the day, giving us 12 hours of sun. My kids enjoy packing as much outdoor fun into those hours as possible–playing on the swing set, chalking up the driveway, and digging in the mud for cool rocks and bugs. Try making a list of 12 things to do in your 12 hours of sunlight!

Once the night falls after our 12 hours of sunlight, we’ll head outside to look at the stars. Sunset will get later and later from this point on, making star-gazing too late for little ones with early bedtimes.

One of our daytime activities is taking a raw egg (make sure to wash your hands before and after) and trying to balance it on end. People traditionally believe this can only be done on the vernal or autumnal (fall) equinox but this is a myth and can be done any day of the year.

The egg is a symbol of fertility and balancing it on this day of equal light and dark may feel particularly harmonious. However, the egg’s ovoid (oval-like three-dimensional shape) and viscous yolk make it difficult but not impossible to balance any day of the year. With some patience, the small bumps in the shell will allow you to place the egg on its end.

If you have any difficulty, pour a little mound of salt and use it to balance your egg. Carefully blow away the salt around the base of the egg.

We can have some more fun with those eggs. The liquid, uncooked yolk, which makes it difficult to stand the egg on its end, will make the egg wobble when it spins. Try to spin both raw and uncooked eggs. The raw ones will wobble and the cooked eggs will not. The raw eggs will also go splat if you spin them off the counter, as we have learned!

The ovoid shape of the egg is really a neat invention of Mother Nature. Cracking eggs is so easy that even my two-year-old can help make his scrambled egg lunch–as long as he taps the shell to break it. Squeezing an egg with even pressure, however, shows us just how strong eggs are.

I asked my crew if they thought they were stronger than an egg shell. When they answered with a resounding “Yes,” I handed each an egg to squeeze. Although they were trying with all their might, they couldn’t crack that shell.

Like an arch, the ovoid shape of the egg redistributes the force throughout the shell. After all, chickens are able to sit on their eggs without crushing them.

We wanted to see exactly how tough that little egg was. So, we stood an egg in a small medicine cup and added another plastic cup on top. You can also use bottle caps. Then, we balanced two books and a gallon jug of water on top of the egg–more than 8 pounds! Our egg still didn’t break. You can pile on weights, heavy household objects, whatever you have available. Weigh the objects that were on the egg just before it broke. How much can one little, “delicate” egg hold?

On the first day of spring, explore the math of the incredible, edible, almost-indestructible, egg.

The Incredible, Nearly Indestructible Egg

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About the Author

Candace Lindemann

Candace Lindemann, of Naturally Educational, is a nationally recognized and quoted educational expert and published children's writer who holds a B.A. from Yale University and an M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education,

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