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Getting onto the egg

Experiments and interesting facts about the Easter egg

It's hard to imagine Easter without colourful eggs. Our Bresser Junior Team took a closer look at such an egg and the tradition of the Easter egg.


An old custom


Since ancient times, people in different cultures have regarded the egg as a symbol of life and fertility. No wonder, because behind every eggshell hides a new life. As early as ancient Rome, people gave each other colourful eggs to celebrate the equinox (the beginning of spring). This day marked the beginning of a new year for people, because now nature awoke to new life after its winter dormancy.


With the emergence of Christianity, the custom was taken up and the symbolism reinterpreted: the chick that hatches from the egg reminds us of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is celebrated at Easter. The egg is therefore a very important part of Easter for Christians: it stands for life and a new beginning. Just as a chick frees itself from an egg, Jesus also freed himself from his tomb.


Eggs are true miracles of nature


Let's take a closer look at an egg. Then you will understand why they have been a symbol of life for thousands of years. On the one hand, the egg shell is thin enough for a chick to peck it open from the inside. On the other hand, the eggshell must protect the chick inside. So it must not break easily.


We have put together a few family experiments around the egg. It is expressly permitted to copy them:


Experiment 1: Crushing an egg in your hand


First try it with a raw egg: Place a raw egg on the palm of your hand and grasp it with your fingers. Don't be afraid to squeeze really hard. Nothing will happen.


Experiment 2: Drop the egg


Go out into a meadow and let the egg fall out of your hand: It won't break there either. Do you have a sandbox or is there a large pile of sand nearby? Ask your parents to drop the egg onto the sand from a greater height: Nothing will happen to the egg. A bird's or chicken's egg can fall a good five to six metres onto soft ground like sand without breaking.


Experiment 3: Eggshells can withstand this much pressure


You can also use two boiled eggs to test how much pressure an egg can actually withstand. Cut a boiled egg in half with a sharp knife - or ask for help - and spoon out the contents. The four halves of the shell are now placed on the table with the open side down and books stacked on top. One after the other. You will be amazed at how much weight the bowls can take before they break.
This has to do with the round shape of the egg: Pressure from outside on the shell is dissipated. After all, the incubating hen must not crush the egg with her weight.


Eggshell under the microscope


Let's take a closer look at the eggshell and use a microscope. You can see a lot of crystals pressed closely together - this is calcium, by the way. This is the same substance, a mineral, that our bones are made of. You can see small holes between the crystals. These are pores. Air from outside gets into the egg through these pores and the chick is thus supplied with oxygen. A thin layer of skin (which you probably noticed when peeling the eggs) under the eggshell also protects the chick from bacteria and dust.


Experiment 4: The freshness test


To see if an egg is fresh before you colour it, you can easily do the float test: Fill a glass with tap water and put a raw egg in it. If it sinks to the bottom, it is fresh. If it stays on its side, it is fresh. If it stands at a slight angle with the blunt side up, it is at least 7 days old. If the egg stands on its tip, it is already about three weeks old. But if the egg floats on top and does not sink to the bottom, it is so old that it is inedible. In this case, so much air has already passed through the pores of the eggshell that a real air bubble has formed inside, causing the egg to float to the top.


By the way, you and your parents can find many more experiments to try out on the GUB e.V. YouTube research channel. (Society for Environmental Education Baden-Württemberg e.V.):


The GUB has just opened this channel - here you can find interesting researcher films and great experiments (including some of our own microscopes) on the topics of science and the environment.


And why are Easter eggs coloured now?

This tradition dates back to the 13th century. In the Middle Ages, people began to dye eggs red for Easter (later other colours were added). This had a very practical use: From Ash Wednesday to Easter was Lent. During these 40 days, the consumption of meat and animal products was forbidden - including eggs. The hens laid eggs anyway, of course - and in order not to throw them away, the eggs were boiled to preserve them and dyed to distinguish them from raw eggs. At the end of Lent, i.e. at Easter, the eggs were eaten and given away.

Now we wish you and your parents a wonderful Easter, enjoy all the colourful eggs and stay interested in science. Your team from Bresser Junior.