An Eggcellent Solution

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Updated on Mar 17, 2011

2011 VIRTUAL SCIENCE FAIR ENTRY

Abstract

My science fair problem for my project is, “What is the effect of positioning of eggshells on the amount of weight that can be supported?” I will be testing to see how strong eggshells are, or how much weight they can bear. I will be expecting the vertical dome to sustain weight for a longer period of time. I think this because I researched the scientific and mathematical reasoning behind the arch in eggshells. The higher the arch, the more support there is because there is a smaller area around the edges and there can be more weight distributed.

In my research, I also learned about the structural support of an eggshell’s dome. This can be shown by the fact that domes are three-dimensional arches. Arches are wedge-shaped objects that help to support the keystone at the top of the arch bearing all the weight. The keystone distributes the weight to all the wedges reinforcing it, eventually having it supported by the ground.

I will use a kitchen scale to measure the weight of the books that were atop the eggshells before they collapsed. This will be the best method of measurement because the books are what are on the domes, and we should know how much weight the domes can support. I will be controlling several variables throughout the experiment to make sure that these factors are consistent. These variables will be the brand of eggs, the height of the eggshells, the type of books and magazines, and the scale. This experiment could apply to an architect’s work. My data would illustrate the effectiveness of an arch’s design. A taller arch would be stronger than a wider arch. So, it could bear more weight. Thus, when building a structure an architect can build bigger buildings if a taller arch is used in the wall construction. The structure could also be more ornate since the weight of additional wood, cement or fixtures could be supported. This information is necessary to know when creating or reading blueprints in design fabrication.

Type

Physics

Grade

Middle School

Difficulty of the Project

Medium

Cost

Purchase of eggs ($2) + dremel tool (if not already owned)

Safety Issues

Parent supervision or parent assistance required while operating dremel tool.

Time Taken to Complete the Project

12 Hours

Objective

I will be testing to see how strong eggshells are, or how much weight they can bear. I will be expecting the vertical dome to sustain weight for a longer period of time.

Materials

  • 18 eggs
  • Bowl for egg contents
  • Ruler
  • Thin permanent marker
  • One hard cover book
  • Many books and magazines
  • Kitchen scale
  • Dremel small saw

Introduction

I chose to complete a science fair project on testing the strength of eggshells. I selected this subject matter because the topic of architecture interests me. I believed that I could complete a science project with this level of complexity. My hypothesis is, “If the eggshell were to be pointing vertically, then it would hold more weight because the arch could distribute the weight to all around the edges of the eggshell and have less room to break in the center of the eggshell.”

In my investigation, I hope that I can achieve the goal of determining the stronger arch of positioned eggshells. This will increase my experimental knowledge in the architecture field and allow me to research areas of interest.

Terms and Concepts for Background Research

  • Structural Support
  • Weight Distribution
  • Vertical Dome
  • Arch

Research Questions

  • What is the effect of vertical or horizontal placement of eggshells on the amount of weight that can be supported?
  • How does the vertical or horizontal placement of eggshells effect the amount of weight that can be supported?

Hypothesis

If the eggshell were to be pointing vertically, then it would hold more weight because the arch could distribute the weight to all around the edges and have less room to break in the center of the eggshell.

Experimental Procedure

  1. Carefully put nine eggs in a bowl.
  2. Take out one egg and hold it in an upright position. Take a skewer and puncture the peaked end of the first egg to create a hole.
  3. Empty the egg contents into another bowl.
  4. Using a thin marker, draw a center line around the thickest part of the egg.
  5. Use the saw to cut the shell on the center line.

  1. Continue making eggshell domes until there are 9 vertical domes.
  2. Get another set of nine eggs.
  3. Repeat steps #1- 4 while holding these eggs in a horizontal position.
  4. Repeat until there are nine horizontal domes. (There should now be a total of nine horizontal domes and nine vertical domes.)
  5. Place three of the vertical domes on a flat surface in an equilateral triangle format. (Distance between each dome should be 17.78 cm.)
  6. Place a hardcover book on top of the eggshells.
  7. Continue adding books and magazines on top of the first book until the eggshells break.

  1. Place this stack of books on the kitchen scale.
  2. Record the weight of the books on the data chart.
  3. Repeat the book stacking process with two more sets of vertical domes.
  4. Calculate the average weight of the stacked books in the three trials.
  5. Start the process again with a new set of domes. This time use the horizontal domes. Place three of the horizontal domes on a flat surface in an equilateral triangle format. (Distance between each dome should be 17.78 cm.)
  6. Repeat the book stacking and weighing process with each of the three sets of horizontal domes.

  1. Calculate the average weight of the books in these three trials.
  2. Record the data on the data chart.

Results and Conclusion

The title of my project is, “What is the effect of vertical or horizontal placement of eggshells on the amount of weight that can be supported?” The purpose of the experiment was to determine whether the placement of eggshells that were cut either horizontally or vertically had an effect on the amount of weight that they could support.

The results of my experiment showed that as the height of the eggshells increased, the weight that was able to be supported increased as well.

The data shows that the vertical eggshell dome held more than the horizontal dome by about 10,000 grams. For example, the average weight supported by the vertical dome was 20,861.56 grams, and the average weight supported by the horizontal dome was 10,107.74 grams. According to my results, the horizontal dome was much weaker than the vertical dome, so the horizontal eggshells held less weight. In fact, the vertical dome supported twice as much weight as the horizontal dome.

My hypothesis stated that if the eggshell were positioned vertically, then it would hold more weight because the arch could distribute the weight to all around the edges and have less room to break in the center of the eggshell. The data does support my hypothesis. A problem I encountered in this investigation was that the cutting knife with which I wanted to cut the eggshells could not cut without cracking the shells. However, I discovered a small saw that was able to slice through the material of the eggshell with ease; that facilitated my project and reduced the duration time of the experiment.

Application

The results of my experiment may apply to an architect or a structural engineer. My data could illustrate the effectiveness of a tall arch design. A tall arch would be stronger and could bear more weight than a wide arch. A taller arch could bear more weight. So, when building a structure, an architect or engineer could build a stronger building or bridge with many tall arches rather than one wide arch.

Bibliography

Properties of Geometric Shapes. “The Manual of Steel Construction.” Volume nine. Chicago: American Institute of steel Construction, 1889. Print.

Michael Morrissey. How Bridges Work: The arch Bridge.HowStuffWorks.com. 2010. Web. 11/10/10. http://science.howstuffworks.com/engineering/civil/bridge5.htm

Compression(physical).Wikipedia.org. November 16 2010. Web. 11/16/10. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_compression

How does an Arch Work?. How arches Work. 2006. Web. 11/21/10. http://www.FreeWebs.com/howarcheswork/beamsand arches.htm

Rama Thoopal. What Makes the Eggshell So Strong. Pitara Kids Network. Web. 10/14/10. www.pitara.com/discover/5wh/online.asp!story=171

The Arch Bridge. Makingthemodernworld.org. ISB Fund of the Treasury and Cabinet office. 2004. Web.11/7/10. http://www.makingthemodernworld.org.uk/learning_modules/maths02.TU.03/?section=4

Bridges. Brain POP. 2010. Brainpop.com. Web. 11/16/10

M.M.Bain. Recent Advantages In the Assessment of Eggshell Quality and Their Future Application- The division of cell Sciences. The Cambridge Journals. World’s Poultry Science Journal. Web. 11.23/10. http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?Frompage=online&aid=619656

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