STEM Activity: Strength of a Dome

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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.

 

Materials Needed

  • 5-pound filled coffee cans
  • Four or more eggs
  • Flat book
  • Kitchen-sized garbage bag
  • Masking tape
  • Scissors

 

Preparation (An adult should handle each of the following steps)

  1. Crack four eggs at the smaller end, leaving at least one-third of the shell intact.
     
  2. Clean out the egg by pouring out the egg whites and yolks.
     
  3. 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.
     
  4. Place masking tape over the cut edges of the eggshells.

 

At-Home or In-Classroom Instructions

  1. Place the four eggshells in a rectangular formation on the table with the dome side facing up.
     
  2. 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.
     
  3. Count how many items were placed on top of the eggshells.
     
  4. 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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