Why not carry out your very own Egg Drop Challenge? Not only is this super easy to do and so much fun to carry out, but it only requires a few basic materials that you'll already have in your cupboard. Not to mention, the whole family will enjoy the mission of creating a parachute that can safely deliver an egg to the ground (and learning about the science behind it)!
Aim Of The Experiment
To understand how gravity and forces act on a falling object, how the surface area of a given object affects air resistance, and to learn how to build a parachute.
Plastic bags or bin bags, scissors, string, plastic sandwich bags or plastic cups, and eggs.
1) Start off by asking the kids for their predictions. Will the egg land safely, or fall quickly and crack? How long do they think it will take to reach the ground? Note these down - we'll explain the science behind it later.
2) Cut out a large square from your plastic/bin bags, of at least 25cm on each side.
3) Cut four pieces of string, and make sure that they're of equal length both to each other and to the side of your square - 25cm each.
4) Poke each of the four corners of your square with the scissors to create a small hole, then thread a string through each one and knot them to ensure that they stay firmly in place.
5) Place an egg into a sandwich bag or plastic cup and tie/wrap it shut.
6) Tie the ends of each of the strings around the top of the sandwich bag (this will keep the bag closed), or poke holes into your plastic cup with a knife and thread and knot the string through.
7) Go to an upstairs window and with the help of a parent, lift the parachute with two fingers from the middle of the plastic square and release - letting it float to the ground.
How to Record Results
You can observe your egg drop science experiment and record results in various ways by repeating the experiment with different lengths of string and different sized parachutes - both bigger and smaller. Using a timer for each drop to see how long the egg took to reach the ground and noting these down is a great way to see how different surface areas affect speed and gravity, and noting down whether or not the egg landed safely or broke in the process is also helpful.
When you've finished recording all of your results, you'll be able to see whether or not your initial predictions were correct. Make sure the kids have their notes ready at the end of the experiment so you can get explaining the science!
The Science Behind the Results
The results of this exciting eggsperiment all come down to a simple explanation - gravity and air resistance. It's important to explain to your kids that when an objecting is falling, there are two forces acting on it. Gravity will always pull an object towards the ground, whereas air resistance will come into play in the opposite direction to slow it down.
Ask your kids if they've noticed that certain objects fall much faster than others - for example, a piece of paper and a small toy. A piece of paper is always going to fall much more slowly than a toy, and this is because it has a much larger surface area for air resistance to react against. Give it a go, and see for yourself!
So, what stopped the egg from crashing down into the ground in your experiment?
If you were to drop an egg from a second-story window all by itself, it would quickly fall straight to the ground and crack open - leaving you an eggy mess. However, when you drop an egg with a parachute, as you've just done in this experiment, the strings and the egg-filled sandwich bag being pulled down by gravity causing the plastic/bin bag to open up, creating a large surface area that will increase the air resistance and therefore slow the fall, reducing the natural effect of gravity.
In terms of the various different results that the kids recorded, you should find that the larger the square of the plastic bag that you used for your parachute, the slower it fell, and the less harm that came to the egg. Smaller parachutes will have fallen faster due to the reduced surface area and air resistance, and may have even resulted in a cracked egg!
Alternative Experiments to Try
If you're looking for similar experiments to try out at home, why not attempt one of the following?
1) Repeat the egg parachute drop project, but this time use different materials for the parachute such as a large sheet of paper, a balloon, or even an entire plastic bag. Don't forget to make your predictions beforehand and record your results!
2) Repeat the parachute drop but this time do it using different objects, such as toys or small teddy bears. Will the parachute still work as effectively on heavier objects? How will the weight change the effects of gravity and air resistance? Will two objects of different weights reach the ground at the same time? Let the kids take notes and use this to further explain the science behind it.
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