Science Fair Project on Arches and Domes: How Many Books Can Eggshells Hold?

How Many Books Can Eggshells hold?
How Many Books Can Eggshells hold? | Source

Engineering: Why Arches and Domes are important

My son, Brendan, is fascinated with building things and wants to be an engineer. For one of his elementary science fair projects, I adapted some ideas I'd seen at a teaching conference twenty years earlier about challenging kids to build things out of index cards which could hold a brick.

Brendan loved this project and learned a lot about engineering principles and what makes a strong structure. This particular project had two parts to the experiment, and we also had him do a research component by looking on the web to learn about domes and arches. You could do a project with only one of these experiments or devise something similar to the sugar cube experiment using blocks.

Step-by-Step Photos of Science Fair Experiment

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Engineering Science experiment.Science Fair BoardCut EggshellsFour eggs on table.Set books on egg shells.Keep on adding books in a stackEggs don't break with books on them!Pile books higher!Eggs hold books!Finally books crush eggs.Two eggs crushed but the other two hold!Making arch with sugar cubes.Sugar cube archesSugar cube science experiment. Try different types of structures.
Engineering Science experiment.
Engineering Science experiment. | Source
Science Fair Board
Science Fair Board | Source
Cut Eggshells
Cut Eggshells | Source
Four eggs on table.
Four eggs on table. | Source
Set books on egg shells.
Set books on egg shells. | Source
Keep on adding books in a stack
Keep on adding books in a stack | Source
Eggs don't break with books on them!
Eggs don't break with books on them! | Source
Pile books higher!
Pile books higher! | Source
Eggs hold books!
Eggs hold books! | Source
Finally books crush eggs.
Finally books crush eggs. | Source
Two eggs crushed but the other two hold!
Two eggs crushed but the other two hold! | Source
Making arch with sugar cubes.
Making arch with sugar cubes. | Source
Sugar cube arches
Sugar cube arches | Source
Sugar cube science experiment. Try different types of structures.
Sugar cube science experiment. Try different types of structures. | Source

Question: Why are Domes and Arches able to stay up without falling down?

Experiment One: How Many Books can eggshells hold?


  • Eggs
  • Books (same size books are best)
  • small scissors
  • Table

Procedure for Eggshell Experiment

  1. Create the half eggshell "buildings.": A parent may need to do this part, but you can certainly let a child try too. Carefully poke a hole in the egg with small sharp scissors. Next, cut around the egg as smoothly as you can. Do this until you get four eggshell halves which are the same height (you may need to shave down edges until they are the same). If an egg cracks during the process, you will need to use another egg. For the experiment to work, the eggs need to have smooth edges without cracks onto the surface.
  2. Make sure eggshells are the same height: Put four eggshell halves down on a firm table surface. Put one book on top to make sure they are all level.
  3. Make Hypothesis: Make a hypothesis of how many books you can stack on your eggshells before they break.
  4. Test your Hypothesis by putting books on your eggshell houses. Put them on carefully and slowly so that you don't use extra force. Take pictures as you go for your poster.
  5. Results: When your eggshells start cracking, your experiment is done. See if your results matched your hypothesis. Write down what you learned.
  6. Conclusion: Explain what you learned from this experiment. Compare your results with your hypothesis.

Great Video about Arches

Research Arches and Domes

To help you in writing your conclusion, you may want to do some research. Look at some of the resources on this Hub about building, arches and domes. Look up on the Internet some information about domes and arches, or find a book at the library with some information you can study. Here are some things to research:

  1. Why are arches and domes are so strong?
  2. How do builders use these shapes?
  3. Look for examples of famous domes and arches. Write down what you learn.
  4. Can you find any examples of domes or arches in your neighborhood or town?
  5. You might want to draw or take pictures of them for you Science Fair poster.

Video Explaining History of Domes

Experiment 2: Build and Arch with Sugar Cubes

Sugar Cube Arch Materials:

  1. Paper and pencil
  2. Sugar cubes, boxes, blocks or other square shapes
  3. Table

1. Make a Hypothesis: Do you think you can build an arch? How many cubes across? How many different arches can you design?

2. Building Your Arch: Using the sugar cubes, see if you can build a bridge or arch which stays together just by the force of gravity. Try different designs. If you have other square materials like small blocks, unit cubes, or cardboard boxes, you might want to try making arches with those materials as well. You can even try it with other shapes like toilet tube rolls.

  • How high can you make your arch?
  • How many sugar cubes across?
  • Challenge other people in your family to try.
  • If you tried materials other than sugar cubes, what was the result?

3. Gathering Information for Poster: Take pictures and draw your designs on paper for your poster.

4. Results: Was your hypothesis correct? Compare what you thought about making an arch with what you were actually able to do.

4. Conclusion: Evaluate why you got the results you did. What did you learn? Were you surprised? Was building an arch easier or harder than you thought? Do you think that using a different material would give different results?

Why Do Arches and Domes Science?

Arches and domes are a fundamental building concept. These experiments are a lot of fun and the results may surprise you. Moreover, these experiments show kids that engineering is creative and engaging. Whether or not your child has to do a science fair project for school, they may enjoy doing this experiment and it might spur them on to a career in science or engineering.

My son, Brendan, enjoyed this experiment so much that he has continued on his journey to be an engineer. He went on to do engineering projects with Lego Mindstorms in Junior High School that won second place at the Texas State Science Fair. In high school, he chose to take all of the physics and engineering courses offered at our school. Currently, he has been accepted to a major private university as an engineering major. While doing this project might not make your child decide to become an engineer, it can teach them that science and engineering can be fun and rewarding!

More by this Author

Comments 9 comments

ScienceFairLady profile image

ScienceFairLady 3 years ago

Sent this to Pinterest for you. Visit us at Super Science Fair Projects. Congrats on your scifair project. Thanks for shaing.

lol 3 years ago

wow how great bye

VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 4 years ago from United States Author

Hi Lisa--I used small scissors and it isn't as hard as you'd think. You can see the type of scissors in the pictures--the ones with oragne handles. I will include a capsule of the type of scissors that work--either ones for cutting nails or small sharp craft scissors. We did end up using a few extra eggs in order to make sure all the eggs we cut were the same height.

Lisa 4 years ago

Thanks for the great idea. But how did you cut the eggshells in half? With scissors? Or do you have some other trick?

Thanks for the help!


VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 4 years ago from United States Author

Shereen--thanks for more ideas.

shereen 4 years ago

Very much thankful for this articles and pics you can see more science fair projects at

VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 4 years ago from United States Author

Thanks R.J. and Madeline--I know that Madeline is the expert in this, but my kids are having a blast that I'm posting their previous experiments as Hubs. It has been fun for us as a family to re-live all the work that went into these projects and to remember what we learned. I went and got all of the old boards out of the shed--didn't know we had so many! So I'll be posting some more!

R. J. Lefebvre 4 years ago


Your son is one lucky boy for having a mom like you. I wish I had your wisdom 35 years ago when my twin sons were about his age. I'm going to share your hub with others who have young children.


ScienceFairLady profile image

ScienceFairLady 4 years ago

Great article and pics. Thanks for sharing. Madeline

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article