EGGcellent EGGSperiment

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Biology In Elementary Schools is a Saint Michael's College student project from a course that ran between 2007 and 2010 and fully described in this book chapter. The student-created resources have been preserved here for posterity. Link under 'toolbox' for printer-friendly versions of the exercises. Click on handouts to print full resolution versions. Please see Wikieducator's disclaimer, our safety statement, and the Creative Commons licensing in English and in legalese.

Student worthiness

Briefly categorize your idea as tried and trusted, tried at least once and worked well, or brand new and untested.

Primary biological content area covered

Briefly list the concepts to which this activity will expose students.


Materials Required for the Teacher

  • Matches
  • Saftey goggles

Materials Required for Each Student Group

  • Small mouthed glass jar
  • Two hard boiled eggs

Materials Required for Each Individual Student

  • Saftey goggles
  • Handout
  • Pen or pencil


If there are simple written instructions that students would use during this activity they should be placed here and they can be cut and pasted into a word processing document for printing. There are mechanisms within this web format to upload pictures, tables, and more complex documents with diagrams. Common MS Office documents cannot be uploaded without first making modifications. Please link to tips on preparing handouts for upload.

Description of activity

Can an egg be sucked into a jar opening that is smaller than the egg itself? Results will amaze you! Students will determine how and why the egg goes into the bottle.

The matches that drop into the bottle heat the air. When air is heated it expands (takes up more room). Some of the heated air escapes out of the bottle while it is expanding. When the matches go out, the air inside the bottle cools and contracts (takes up less room). This creates lower pressure inside the bottle than outside of the bottle. This allows the egg to decrease in size, becomes a solid and allows the egg to slip through the opening of the jar. The greater pressure outside the bottle forces the egg into the bottle.

Lesson plan

20 Minute Lesson Plan Targeted for Grade 3 Students.

NOTE: Before this experiment teacher should boil an egg. After it has cooled, crack it and peel off the egg shell.

First Five Minutes

  • Show the students the egg and the bottle.
  • Ask students if they think the egg will be able to fit into the bottle.
  • Explain through the worksheet how we will be using the scientific method, and have them write a hypothesis. They can also write in the title, purpose, and materials at this time.
  • Put the egg on top of the bottle. It will not fit in. Explain the balance between the air pressure pushing down on the egg, the air pressure pushing sideways, and the air pushing up from inside the jar. Gravity pulls the egg down, but the bottle pushes it up.

Next Ten Minutes

  • Ask the students if they think when we light a match if the egg will fit in the bottle.
  • After they have finished copying it down on their worksheet drop two well lit matches into the bottle.
  • Observe the egg and what happened.
  • Explain that It was pushed into the jar by the air in the room. It is wrong to say it was "sucked" into the jar.
  • Clean Up.

Potential pitfalls

There could be potential pitfalls with the setup of the experiment. There needs to be a seal between the egg and the bottle. If there is a gap, you may want to wet the with water or coat it with a little bit of oil.

From your experience running the activity, list any difficulties you encountered. Where possible, incorporate any modifications of the activity that could reduce these pitfalls directly into the description above.

Math connections

Does the activity link in any way to grade-appropriate math skills?

Literature connections

You could connect this experiment to literature through a children's book about the scientific method. One good book could be: How to Think Like a Scientist: Answering Questions by the Scientific Method by Stephen P. Kramer and Felicia Bond. You could read this book a day in advance, or before you begin the experiment to give students background information on the scientific method.

Connections to educational standards

This section is used to help teachers track and document the educational standards that the activity meets.

What educational standards does this activity address? Enter the relevant section numbers here. Vermont standards can be found in web links at the bottom of this page. Feel free to add links to other standards.

Next steps

Once you have completed the activity, what other information can be gleaned from the materials and resources at hand? What additional activities could be developed using the equipment and materials you have listed above? What other opportunities to learn can be explored based on student questions and input?



Edit this section after you have tried the activity with grade school students. What worked well? What was unexpected? What previous knowledge did the students bring to the activity and how did that compliment your lesson? Are there any must do components that did or would particularlly enhance the learning experience? Other helpful thoughts.


Citations and links

While brand new ideas are very valuable and most welcome here, tried and trusted ideas of others will probably make up the bulk of the material on this site. It is important to respect the copyrights of others, and also to acknowledge their ideas. A full citation to published materials is essential and also useful. If there are online materials that would be useful to supplement your program, link to them from here.


Common mistakes

This section is strictly for editorial suggestions and will not be part of your final product. The most common editorial suggestions I make are listed here.

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