Four paper-towel or toilet-paper tubes
Four plastic cups
Thick piece of cardboard
Sheets or towels (optional)
Fill each cup halfway with water. Place them on a table, near the edge, in the shape of a square. (You might want to cover the area below the table with a sheet or towels, in case of mess.)
Put the piece of cardboard on top of the cups.
Stand the tubes up on the cardboard. Each tube should be directly above a cup – check your setup from all sides to make sure the tubes and cups line up.
Put one egg on the top of each tube. Think about how you can get the eggs to drop into the cups. What different ways might work?
The broom is a tool to help the eggs drop. Here’s how: Stand close to the edge of the table near the piece of cardboard holding the tubes and eggs. Use your foot to press the broom’s bristles to the floor. Pull the broom handle away from the table about 45 degrees and let go, aiming for the piece of cardboard. What happens when the broom handle hits the cardboard? (Hint: Let the cardboard hang off the edge of the table just a bit, so the broom handle hits the cardboard and not the table.)
The egg drop illustrates the transfer of potential energy to kinetic energy. The potential energy from the eggs transfers into kinetic energy after an outside force (gravity) acts upon the egg.
This activity also demonstrates Newton’s first law of motion (inertia), which says that an object at rest tends to stay at rest, while an object in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. The eggs stay at rest until acted upon by an outside force. Gravity is the force that that pulls the eggs down once there is no longer another outside force (the piece of cardboard) to hold them up.
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