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STEMingBoredom 23: make a heart-shaped egg

If someone said that the eggs that you had cooked them were rubbery, you probably be (quite rightly) offended. But did you know that you can make eggs behave like plastic without changing their taste?

Plastics are divided into two types: thermoplastics and thermosetting plastics. There’s a small but crucial difference; thermosetting plastics stay as they are once you heat them – they’ll always be that shape, but thermoplastics can be re-heated and re-shaped many times.

We’re going to create a thermosetting egg!

So imagine there’s someone special that you want to say a really thoughtful thank you to – perhaps a grown up, or a scientist or engineer. Breakfast in bed is always popular, what could be nicer? Heart shaped eggs perhaps?

How to do it:

This is a low-tech experiment to prove something quite advanced, but the low tech still requires care!

You’ll need:

An empty tetra pak carton
An egg
A pencil
Two rubber bands
A saucepan

We’ll begin by boiling an egg. Do it for long enough to hard boil it – seven minutes should be sufficient. While the egg is boiling in the water carefully cut the top and bottom off the tetra pak carton. Then, cut down two of the creases so that you have two V shaped sections of pack.

Once the egg is boiled, take it out and let it stand for a couple of minutes to cool a little.

When it is cool enough to handle in kitchen roll, peel all the shell off the egg. Get one of the V shaped pieces of tetra pak and put the egg in it with the point of the V pointing downward. Take the pencil and press it firmly into the top of the egg (with the pencil running along the line of the V of the tetra pak). It should make a centimetre dent easily.

One at a time, put the rubber bands around the ends of the pencil and tetra pak so that they keep the pencil pushed firmly into the egg. Now pop the egg in the fridge for an hour. (This is you thermosetting it!)

When you take the egg out after the hour, you’ll have a heart shaped egg! You’ll be able to slice it into heart shaped pieces and make a salad to show someone how great you think they are!

Extension task:

Since you can thermoset an egg now, can you make a squared off egg, or a triangular egg?

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