STEM Activity: Strength of a Dome
In this hands-on STEM activity, children create dome-like structures in order to explore and better understand the properties of this amazing shape.
- 5-pound filled coffee cans
- Four or more eggs
- Flat book
- Kitchen-sized garbage bag
- Masking tape
Preparation (An adult should handle each of the following steps)
- Crack four eggs at the smaller end, leaving at least one-third of the shell intact.
- Clean out the egg by pouring out the egg whites and yolks.
- Using a pair of scissors, carefully trim the eggshells’ edges so they are even. Each egg should have approximately two-thirds of its shell cut away.
- Place masking tape over the cut edges of the eggshells.
At-Home or In-Classroom Instructions
- Place the four eggshells in a rectangular formation on the table with the dome side facing up.
- Place the flat book on top of the eggshells so that the shells are supporting the book. If the eggshell supports do not crack, place a coffee can on top of the book. If the eggshell supports still do not crack, place other items on top of the coffee can until the eggshell supports crack.
- Count how many items were placed on top of the eggshells.
- Ask your participants why they think domes are so strong and encourage them to share examples of other dome-like structures in the world!
What Are We Learning?
An eggshell’s shape enables it to hold a great deal of weight. Domes exert equal forces in all directions. A dome is strong under compression because everything pushes down on everything else. Architects and designers have more freedom when creating a domed building’s floor plan since a dome does not require interior walls to support its roof.
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