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Discover how gravity makes saving a falling egg easier than it sounds with this Museum at Home science experiment.

Museum at Home: Egg Drop Inertia

Egg Drop Inertia science experiment for Museum at Home with The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

In this  experiment courtesy of Steve Spangler Science, your family will discover how gravity makes saving a falling egg easier than it sounds!  You'll demonstrate gravity, motion, and other forces while wowing your kids with this science trick. 

The Egg Drop is a classic science demonstration that illustrates Newton's Laws of Motion, namely inertia. The challenge sounds so simple—just get the egg into the glass of water, but there are a few obstacles. The egg is perched high above the water on a cardboard tube, and a pie plate sits between the tube and the water.

Still think it's easy? Sir Isaac Newton does.

Materials:

  • Cardboard tube
  • Pie pan
  • Eggs
  • Water
  • A large drinking glass
  • Tray (optional)
  • Coloring Tablets (optional)

Process:

IMPORTANT: Always wash your hands well with soap and water after handling raw eggs. Some raw eggs contain salmonella bacteria that can make you sick.
  1. Fill the large drinking glass about three-quarters full with water.
  2. Center a pie pan on top of the glass.
  3. Place the cardboard tube on the pie plate, positioning it directly over the water.
  4. Carefully set the egg on top of the cardboard tube.
  5. With your writing hand, smack the edge of the pie pan horizontally. Don't swing up, and don't swing down! It’s important that you hit the pie pan horizontally and use a pretty solid hit, so plan on chasing the plate and tube.
  6. Your astonished guests will watch the egg plop nicely into the water. It’s even more fun to watch someone else try to drop the egg.

What's going on:

Credit for this one has to go to Sir Isaac Newton and his First Law of Motion. He said that since the egg is not moving while it sits on top of the tube, that’s what it wants to do - not move. You applied enough force to the pie pan to cause it to zip out from under the cardboard tube (there’s not much friction against the drinking glass). The edge of the pie pan hooked the bottom of the tube, which then sailed off with the pan. Basically, you knocked the support out from under the egg. For a brief nanosecond or two, the egg didn’t move because it was already stationary (not moving). But then, as usual, the force of gravity took over and pulled the egg straight down toward the center of the Earth.

Also, according to Mr. Newton’s First Law, once the egg was moving, it didn’t want to stop. The container of water interrupted the egg’s fall, providing a safe place for the egg to stop moving so you could recover it unbroken. The gravity-pushed egg caused the water to splash out. Did someone get wet?

Take It Further

  • Add coloring to the water in your egg drop for added effect.
  • Try testing longer tubes, more or less water, different liquids in the glass, different water containers, and heavier or lighter falling objects. 
  • Worried about the potential mess? You can also try this with a cup, an index card, and a penny!

Share your discoveries with us by using #TCMatHome on social media! 

 
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Science Educators Becky Wolfe and Don Riefler demonstrate science experiments you can do at home for Museum at Home with The Children