Friday, May 18, 2012

Using Egg Carton Boats to Learn About Gravity

Science Experiment for Preschoolers: Egg Carton Boats!


I sure love free stuff and in my mind, egg cartons are a free toy so I'm always brainstorming new ways to use them around the house.  This week, we decided to do a little science experiment to learn about gravity, using egg cartons as boats.  First, I ran my egg cartons through the dishwasher before using them because I am a borderline OCD germa-phobe (Not really, but kinda).

For this experiment, we used:

1.  Egg cartons
2.  Large tupperware container
3.  Feathers
4.  Rocks (Purchased from the Dollar Store)
5.  Straws
6.  Lots of patience (keep reading, you'll see why I needed patience)

First, I filled up the tupper-ware bin full of water and gave them the boats and they each got a straw.  They used the air to move the boat around the water.  I explained about wind.  Since egg cartons are so light, they moved around easily from blowing air through the straw.

Projects for little kids using an egg carton as a boat


Next, we filled the boat up with feathers and the boat didn't sink.  We slowly started adding in rocks and finally, the boat finally sank under the weight of all the rocks.  This really illustrated to Munchkin Girl (almost four) the concept of heavy vs. light.  The feathers were so light that they didn't make the boat sink, but the rocks did.


After this, she literally spent 45 minutes filling up the boat with rocks over and over again until it sank.  We worked on using both sides of the boat to balance it so it wouldn't sink, and then she would move them all to one side because she loved watching it sink.

Filling up egg carton with rocks to teach little kids about gravity and balance


Now, some of you might be wondering what my darling rambunctious two year old boy was up to during this educational science experiment?  I'm not going to lie.  He was a total pest.  He kept coming over and tackling Munchkin Girl while she filled up the boat.  Then he would take the boats and rocks and throw them in the yard and run off laughing.  If I had it to do over again, we would do this while he was napping.  Of course I tried to include him but he couldn't understand weight, gravity, or balance, so I finally just gave him the hose to distract him from bothering us.  Luckily, that turns out to be a very fun and educational experience for a two year old:

Educational value of a hose for little kids


It occurred to me to get a 2nd tupperware container and rocks for him, and then he played with those for awhile too

Water is fun for little kids

Tips for you: Get everything ready before-hand.  Find the tupperware container and wash it out if needed BEFORE you show it to them.  Consider filling it up with water first too so you can get right into what the boat is used for.  And of course, gather up all the materials and have them ready before you start.  Unfortunately I didn't do any of that, and let's just say I wish I had followed my own advice.  Maybe then Munchkin Girl wouldn't have taken off Little Buddy's shoes and used them as boats, causing them to cackle hysterically and almost ruin his shoes while I was still cutting up the egg cartons.  Oh well, I'm always learning and will do better next time!

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7 comments:

  1. LOVE it!!! The boys and I were just talking about gravity and how it works, this will be great to show them!! I love all your ideas!!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Nicole!!! You are so sweet and I love your site too!!

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  2. Super neat!

    http://www.memoirsofmeandmine.com/

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  3. This is a great science experiment. I love doing "sink or float" experiments with my kids. They have to predict which items will sink and which will float. And then we test their hypothesis. Just a fyi, usually when you are working with water you use the term "buoyancy" rather than "gravity".

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  4. What a fun one! I am a high school science teacher and use this same experiment (virtually) for kids to understand density. Previous commenter was right, though...you were looking at buoyancy, not gravity. Buoyancy is impacted by weight and shape and density. Gravity works exactly the same on all objects, regardless. Drop a baseball and a marble simultaneously and they'll hit ground simultaneously! THAT'S gravity...falling stuff, not sinking stuff. :)

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  5. Glad you worked out a solution for the little guy!

    Thanks for sharing with Learning Laboratory at Mama Smiles =)

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  6. Egg cartons are so much fun, my kids always love when we use them.

    Thanks for linking up to Science Sunday!

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