The dropping egg experiment is a science classic, but it can still be pretty daunting if you've never done it before. To drop an egg without breaking it, you'll need to find a way to minimize the force of impact and its effects on the delicate shell. The best ways to do this are to pad the egg and change the way it lands and falls.
Part 1 of 3: Pad and protect the egg
Step 1. Use cereal
Surrounding the egg with cereal can be a very effective way of distributing the force of impact. For best results, choose a "froot loop" cereal over flakes. This type contains a fair amount of air and cushions better.
- Wrap the egg in wet paper towels.
- Put it in a plastic bag surrounded by cereal.
- Fill four more bags with the same cereal, but don't put any eggs in them.
- Place all bags inside a larger, zippered bag. Leave the bag with the egg in the middle and all the others around it on all sides.
Step 2. Pack the egg with appropriate materials
Packaging materials are specifically made to protect fragile items from knocks and impacts. If you have enough, this material can also protect a raw egg from breaking after a fall.
- The simplest way to do this is to use a strong bubble wrap. Carefully wrap the plastic around the egg 2-5 times, creating a thick padding. Tie the ends of the plastic together with rubber bands so the egg doesn't slide over or under.
- If you don't have bubble wrap but have other materials, such as Styrofoam "peanuts", inflated bags, wrapping paper, cotton balls or crumpled newspaper, you can use them to pad the egg as well. Spread a thick layer of the chosen material inside a box that is at least 4 to 8 times wider than the egg. Use enough to fill half the box. Place the egg in the center of this quilt and gently cover it with enough material to fill the rest of the box. Close the box and seal it with tape before dropping it.
Step 3. Try using marshmallows or popcorn
These soft, airy foods can be used as cereal or packaging items. The basic idea is to surround the egg with enough of these materials to reduce the force of impact it will receive when it lands.
- Which container you use doesn't make much difference, but there are a few things you should keep in mind. The pot should be wide enough that you can surround the egg on all sides in case it falls to the side rather than the top or bottom of the container. You'll also need to have enough marshmallows, popcorn, or other soft food to fill the pot completely; Otherwise, the egg might move inside.
- Marshmallows and popcorn work well because they have a lot of air. You can try other types of food as well, but the one you choose needs to be very soft or very airy.
- Fill the container halfway with marshmallows. Place the egg in the middle and fill the rest of the pot with marshmallows as well. The container should be very full, but without compressing the egg.
Step 4. Let the egg float
If you can leave the egg floating in the water during the fall and impact, the force of the latter should spread through the water and have little effect on the egg itself.
- Place the egg inside a tin, plastic box or other strong container. This pot should be about 5 times larger than the egg.
- Fill the rest of the container with water and a pinch of salt. The egg will float better in salt water than if it were in normal water. The container must be filled with water and tightly sealed before being dropped.
Part 2 of 3: Change the way the egg drops
Step 1. Create a crib
Suspend the egg in the middle of a box or similar container using a pair of nylon socks or tights. Socks are very elastic and soft. As the container with the egg falls to the ground, they should give way a little, allowing the egg to stop less suddenly. As a result, the force on the shell will be less, making it less likely to break.
- Cut off one leg of the pantyhose. Place the egg inside that leg, in the middle of it. Secure it in place with rubber bands.
- Firmly pull the leg of the sock diagonally across the center of the box, extending from an upper corner to a lower corner. The egg should be in the middle of the box. Clip or staple the sock in place.
- Note that the box can be made from almost any material. It can be cardboard, plastic or even a frame made of wires for hangers.
Step 2. Make the bottom of the container heavier
You can place the egg on a padded container instead of in the middle as long as it has enough weight to control the direction the container will fall. The easiest way to do this is using a rock and Styrofoam cups.
- Place a heavy stone inside a Styrofoam cup. It should be heavier than the egg.
- Put six more glasses inside the first one and on the stone.
- Place the egg into the top cup.
- Gently place another glass over the egg to secure it in place.
- Tape the cups together so the arrangement does not fall apart during the fall.
- If the stone is heavy enough, the container should fall with the side down and the egg side up. Styrofoam cups should also help to cushion the fall.
Step 3. Make a parachute
You can make a parachute for the container that will contain the egg, thus reducing the speed at which it will fall. As the egg will fall at a slower rate, the force of impact will be greatly reduced when it hits the ground. Less strength means your egg may have a chance of surviving.
- You can try some parachutes, but one of the easiest materials to use is a plastic bag. Place the egg in a box along with any cushioning you want to use. Attach a plastic bag to the top of the box using masking tape or a stapler. The handles should be close to the sides of the box so that the bag can get enough air as the container falls.
- When dropping the box, leave the side of the parachute on top. This will allow air to fill the bag and cause it to open, reducing the speed of the fall as a result.
Part 3 of 3: Change Landing Location
Step 1. Get the egg in a net
The egg destroys itself when it falls to the ground because a large deceleration within a small distance creates a significant amount of force. Catching the egg in a net can increase the deceleration time and reduce the force.
- If you can't use a safety net, a simple alternative is a linen sheet. Attach the sheet to stakes at least 12 inches above the ground. When dropping the egg, make it land as close to the center of the sheet as possible.
- You can also give the egg a padded place to drop in instead of a hammock. The principle is the same. Fill a wide box with a thick layer of strong bubble wrap or similar packing material. When dropping the egg, make it land on the quilt.
Step 2. Choose a grassy place
If you can choose a landing site, choose a grassy location rather than concrete. Grass and earth are naturally softer than concrete or stone, automatically making the impact force much less.
For even better results, drop the egg after a good rain so that the soil is very soft. Avoid dropping the egg during a dry period, as the soil will be harder and more compacted under these conditions
- Mix as much of these elements together as possible for the egg drop. Decreasing the rate of fall during descent while distributing force through damping can protect the fragile shell more effectively than either method alone. If you can also change the landing surface, the egg will be even safer.
- If you're participating in a class project or formal egg-dropping contest, review the rules and follow them when choosing and planning your technique.
- Drop the egg gently. Hold it on the surface and let it fall. Do not drop it down, as this will give the fall more strength and speed, making it more likely that it will break on impact.