We’ve been having fun with science experiments for kids lately and this one was a huge hit. It’s called the “Egg Drop” experiment and it demonstrates Sir Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion: “An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”
The setup for this experiment is super simple: fill a medium sized container with water, cover it with a baking pan, top it with an empty toilet paper roll and then balance an egg on top of it. Next, show your preschooler how to knock the pan off the container of water with an even swipe that hits the baking pan only. You want them to knock the baking pan straight to the side, not come down on it from an angle.
Finally get a good grip on the bottom of the water container and ask them to swat the pan on the count of three. If they hit the pan straight on, it and the toilet paper roll will go flying in the opposite direction, while the egg will drop into the water unharmed.
How does this experiment demonstrate Newton’s First Law of Motion? According to Newton, since the egg is not moving while it sits on top of the tube it wants to continue in that state of non-movement. So when you send the pan and toilet paper roll sailing across the room, the egg will hang in mid-air for a split second before gravity takes over and pulls it down into the water. Furthermore, once the egg begins falling it wants to continue falling (remember an object in motion stays in motion), but is then acted upon by the water, which causes it to stop and not break.
We found this experiment at Steve Spangler’s science website and the munchkin thought it was the absolute coolest thing ever. First he couldn’t believe we actually wanted him to smack a pan out from under an egg, and then he couldn’t believe the egg didn’t also go flying across the room. We got a good seven rounds out of one egg before the munchkin’s aim went slightly off track and the egg did indeed go crashing into the floor. But this was because the munchkin hit the pan at an angle that time and hey, no big deal! We cleaned up the egg, talked about the difference a slight angle can make and then started over with a fresh egg. We are going to do it again this weekend and use colored water this time.
Here’s a video of the experiment so you can see how it work in more detail and try it at home!
p.s. Make sure everyone washes their hands after this experiment and any surfaces where raw egg touched are wiped down.