Floating Eggs Experiment

This exploration is for all ages, as the colored smilies show. You can do the floating eggs experiment with your whole family together!

1st thru 4th grades
5th thru 8th grades
9th thru 12th grades
Layers of Learning Unit 1-8
Unit 1-8: Assyrians, Deserts, Fluids, Rhythm

The floating eggs is a physics experiment from Layers of Learning Unit 1-8 about fluids. Layers of Learning has hands-on experiments in every unit of this family-friendly curriculum. Learn more about Layers of Learning.

Density is how many molecules are packed into a space. The more molecules packed in, the more dense a substance is.

When salt is dissolved in water, it breaks down into ions that are attracted to the water molecules.  This attraction causes them to bind tightly, increasing the amount of matter per volume (density).  Instead of just having hydrogen and oxygen molecules in the water, sodium and chlorine joins in too(salt or NaCl).  Salt water now has more particles in it compared to the plain tap water we started with; in other words, it’s more dense.

Step 1: Library Research

Before you begin exploring, read a book or two about density. Here are some suggestions, but if you can’t find these, look for books at your library about fluids or density. The colored smilies above each book tell you what age level they’re recommended for.

Things That Float and Things That Don’t

by David A. Adler

A story about kids who play in a pool and learn about density by observing things that float and things that don’t.

Fluid Mechanics: A Fairy Tale

by Sarah Allen

The first part of this fifty page book is a fairy tale. The last part explains the physics of fluids that the fairy tale described. Well written!

Liquids and Gases: Principles of Fluid Mechanics

by Paul Fleisher

Especially good because it teaches scientific concepts along with the history of how they came to be discovered.

Step 2: Floating Eggs Experiment

You will need three clear cups or jars, three eggs, water, and table salt. You can also use food coloring to make things brighter if you like.

First, carefully put an egg into a glass of warm water. If you like you can add food coloring to the glass of water just to make it prettier. The egg will sink because it is more dense than the water.

Next, make a saturated solution of salt and warm water.  Stir salt in until you can’t stir in any more. When the salt is dissolved, put an egg in the salt water.   You’ll see the egg rise to the very top because the egg is less dense than salt water.  (That’s the middle glass in the picture.)

floating eggs experiment

Finally, try a cool trick.   Make the egg float in the middle of the water.  Put warm salt water on the bottom (about 2/3 full). Then slowly and carefully pour in plain water on top. Gently put the egg in and watch it float between the 2 layers–above the salt water and below the plain water.

5th thru 8th grades
9th thru 12th grades

For Middle Grades and High School Only

To do the more advanced parts of this experiment, in addition to the above materials you will also need a scale and a beaker, which can measure liquid in milliliters.

For this experiment you will need a 600 ml beaker.
This is a scientific scale, also called a balance. It measures to the hundredth of a gram. A less expensive kitchen scale, used for measuring food, is also acceptable for this experiment.

For kids from about 10 years old and up you can also calculate the density of the eggs, the plain water, and the salt water. Before you do the calculations ask your kids to put the egg, plain water, and salt water in order from least dense to most dense according to the experiment you did above.

The equation to calculate density is mass divided by volume. Mass is measured in grams (g) and volume in milliliters (mL).

Density = mass/volume

So you need to measure the mass and the volume of the egg, the water, and the salt. Make a table to keep track of your calculations.

table for measuring volume and mass

Measure the mass of the water by placing the beaker on a scale (or balance) and hitting “tare”. This will zero out the scale with the beaker on it so you are not measuring the mass of the beaker, only the mass of the water. Then pour water into the beaker to the 300 ml line. Record the mass in grams.

empty beaker on balance
Put the empty beaker on the balance and hit “tare”.
Pour 300 ml of water into the beaker and measure the mass.

Measure the mass of the egg the same way. Put a container on the scale and hit “tare” then put the egg in the container and record the mass of the egg.

Do the same thing with the salt. Place a container on the scale and hit “tare” then pour salt into the cup and record the mass. For 300 ml of water you will need about 55-60 grams of salt to get a saturated solution.

The volume of the water is already recorded at 300 ml.

Find the volume of the egg by placing it in a carefully measured beaker of 300 ml of water. Note how much the water level rises and subtract 300 from the new volume to find the volume of the egg.

Measure 300 ml of water into a beaker.
Put the egg into the 300 ml of water and subtract the 300 ml from the new volume. Our new volume was 355 ml, so our egg’s volume is 55 ml.

Measure the volume of the salt, the same way you did the egg, by adding the salt to 300 ml of water and measuring the new volume. Subtract 300 ml from the new volume.

This is the table filled out with measurements. Your measurements may not exactly match ours.

Now start calculating

Calculate the density of the egg and the density of the water by dividing each mass by its volume.

To calculate the salt water you have to add the mass of the salt and the mass of the water. Then add the volume of the salt and the volume of the water. Then divide the added values.

Here is an example of how to work out each of the calculations to find the density.

Now, according to your calculations, put the egg, water, and salt water in order from least dense to most dense.

You can calculate the density of any objects in this way. Try calculating the density of a Lego block, a metal toy car, a marble, a marshmallow, an air filled balloon, or anything other small items you have around the house.

Step 3: Show What You Know

Teach what you learned about density to someone who wasn’t there for the lesson, maybe Grandma, a neighbor, or Dad, for example. Show your student how to calculate density.

Additional Layers

Additional Layers are extra activities you can do or tangents you can take off on. You will find them in the sidebars of each Layers of Learning unit. They are optional, so just choose what interests you.

Memorization Station

Memorize the definition of density.

The quantity of mass per volume.

Also be able to explain what this means.

Fabulous Fact

Specific gravity is the density of a substance compared to water. Water is assigned the specific gravity of 1. Anything more dense than water will have a specific gravity of more than 1 and anything less dense than water will have a specific gravity less than 1.

Famous Folks

The ancient Greeks were the first to mathematically determine densities, volume and so on.

There is a story (maybe true, maybe not) that Archimedes discovered how to measure the volume of irregular objects when he was taking a bath and noticed the water level rise as he got in. “Eureka!” he exclaimed, which means “I’ve found it!” in Greek.

Get the first Layers of Learning unit free when you sign up for the monthly newsletter.

4 Comments

  1. THat looks like fun. Jarrett is studying cells. We put an egg in vinegar to eat away the cell wall. The cell membrane is left in to hold the egg together. We are going to put it in food coloring tonight. We will have to do the floating experiment.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.