Welcome to Five Minute Science where we offer up cool science experiments you and your kids can do together using everyday household items, in about five minutes!
In this experiment, you'll look like you're performing magic, but you'll really be applying Newton's First Law of Motion, which we'll learn more about with the help of the experts at Let's Talk Science.
To illustrate Newton’s First Law of Motion, which can be stated simply: An object at rest will stay at rest, unless a force pushes or pulls on it, and an object in motion will stay in motion, travelling in a straight line, unless a force pushes or pulls on it.
- A pie plate
- An empty cardboard toilet paper tube
- A raw egg (yes, raw)
- A large drinking glass
- Fill the drinking glass with water (about ¾ full).
- Place the pie plate on top of the glass.
- Carefully place the toilet paper tube on top of the pie plate, positioning it over the water.
- Set the egg on top of the toilet paper tube - make sure to place the egg on its side, not how you'd find it in an egg carton.
- Get ready to smack the pie plate, but first ask your child what he or she thinks might happen to the egg when you smack its support out from under it? Then, using your dominant hand, and starting from about 30 cm away, smack the side of the pie plate horizontally. It is important to hit the plate horizontally, and don't be shy - give it a good solid whack.
- Observe what happens to the egg.
Explaining the Science:
Did you see the egg drop into the glass of water, instead of flying away with the pie plate and toilet paper tube? Is that what you expected? Why do you think this happened? The scientific explanation is that the egg is following Newton’s First Law of Motion which says that an object at rest will stay at rest unless acted upon by another force. The egg is not moving when it sits on top of the cardboard tube - it is at rest. When you hit the pie plate with force it causes the pie plate to fly out from under the egg. The toilet paper tube gets caught on the edge of the pie plate making it fly away too. But the egg is not caught on anything, so for a fraction of a second, the egg stays at rest in the air, even after losing its support, until the force of gravity pulls the egg towards the ground - or in this case, the glass of water. The egg stays in motion heading down into the glass, until the force of the water hits it, breaking the fall and causing the egg to come to rest, unbroken, in the glass.
This experiment is simple, safe and appropriate for any age. In the Ontario Science and Technology curriculum, “Movement” is taught in Grade 2, “Forces Causing Movement” is taught in Grade 3, and “Forces Acting on Structures and Mechanisms” is covered in Grade 5.
- For extra pizzazz, add food colouring to the water.
- Try the experiment again but instead of using a pie plate and one egg and toilet paper roll, try using a larger tray, with a lip around the edge, and five tubes and eggs. This one takes a little practice but it can sure wow a crowd.
- Try using more or less water, or different types of liquid. What happens?
- Try using longer or shorter tubes to support the egg. What happens?