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Egg Toss

In this activity, students explore the structural integrity of eggs.

Eggs are similar in shape to architectural domes, which are among the strongest architectural forms. Arches are curved structures with no angles and no corners. Domes are the three-dimensional equivalent, capable of enclosing a large amount of space without the help of a single column.

When a load is placed on top of an arch or dome, its force spreads out and down the sides of the arch. At the ground, strong supports, or abutments, keep the arch from moving outward. Architecturally, the dome is one of the strongest designs because it supports the weight of the roof evenly so that no single point on the dome supports the whole load and gives way under stress.

Similarly, the arch shape at each end of the egg distributes all the weight evenly and minimizes stress and strain. The egg is strongest at the top and the bottom (or at the highest point of the arch), which is why it does not break when pressure is added to both ends. The curved form of the shell also distributes pressure evenly all over the shell rather than concentrating it at any one point. By completely surrounding the egg with your hand, the pressure you apply by squeezing is distributed evenly all over the egg.

However, eggs do not stand up well to uneven forces. This explains why they crack easily on the side of a bowl. The egg toss is a fun way to introduce the topic of eggs, while getting students to practice their throwing and catching skills.

Egg toss trivia
The egg toss world record was established on November 12, 1978, in Jewett, Texas. Johnie Dell Foley threw a fresh egg 98.51 metres (323ft 2in) to his cousin, Keith Thomas, who caught it.

Objectives

  • Demonstrate the proper technique for throwing and receiving an egg with appropriate force and precision.

Materials

  • Per Pair of Students:
    1 hard-boiled egg (plus a few spares)
    field or playground
    measuring tape (optional)

  • Teacher tip: Raw eggs can be used if the mess is not an issue — it increases the drama!

Key Questions

  • How far were you able to throw your egg?
  • Do you have any strategies for catching an egg safely?
  • Which part concerned you the most: dropping the egg or it breaking in your hand?
  • In the end, how did your egg break?

What To Do

Preparation

  1. Hard boil and cool the eggs so that they’re not too hot to hold.

Game

  1. Divide the class into pairs.
  2. Give each pair of students an egg.
  3. The partners face each other, about 1 metre away from each other, forming two rows.
  4. Students toss the egg back and forth between them.
  5. With each successful back and forth toss (i.e. the egg does not hit the ground), the pair takes one step back from each other.
  6. The pair that is the furthest apart and still able to successfully toss the egg back and forth wins.
  7. The teacher can opt to measure the distance of each pair’s egg toss.

Extensions

  • Describe the forces in play at each stage of the egg toss.
  • Why do your egg catch strategies minimize the risk of breakage?
  • Why do you toss the egg upward rather than straight at your partner?