Easter Eggs Experiment

We just leaned right into that quirky, science-y, okay, I’ll own it, nerdy persona represented here and turned the simple, fun tradition of dyeing Easter eggs into a full-blown science experiment.

Before you go and think, this is too much, let me reassure you, it’s really not very over-the-top complicated. I literally googled “the science of dyeing Easter eggs”, followed one of the top links to a resource called, appropriately enough, “The Chemistry of Dyeing Easter Eggs”. It was all there, and the science-y part of the experience took all of about 5 minutes before we moved on to the regularly scheduled fun of dyeing eggs in the normal fashion.

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My friend, who happens to be the mom of Eddie’s friend, invited us over to dye Easter eggs, because it’s more fun to do messy projects with more than one messy young child. Especially projects involving colorful dye waiting to be spilled. I’m not particularly into crafts with kids, but I’m totally into lunch with friends while our boys make each other extra silly in the most adorable, preschool-friendship kind of way. But really, these two particular boys ramp up the silly just being in the same room, so it was pretty miraculous no cups of dye were lost in the process.

We simplified the project even further than described, down to the bare-bones goal of trying to introduce the scientific method: ask a question, research, form a hypothesis, experiment, analyze the data, draw a conclusion. Okay, actually, in real life with 4-year-olds, we asked a question then did an experiment and looked at what happened. That’s all. Totally doable.

The question: How does vinegar change the egg color?

The experiment: Two same-color cups with the same amount of water and egg dye. One cup labeled vinegar; one cup labeled control. Eddie and Jack each added 3 tablespoons of vinegar to their cup labeled vinegar. One white hard-boiled egg went into each cup. Timer was set to 4 minutes. Both eggs were removed to dry.

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The results were actually pretty epic! While the egg in just water and dye was a lovely light pastel color, the egg dyed with vinegar was bright and rich in color. There were appropriate oohs and ahhs.

Turns out, the process by which the dye bonds to the egg happens best in an acidic environment. Since water is neutral, adding vinegar create the right conditions for coloring the egg.

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We asked, “Which egg is brighter, the one in vinegar or the one in water?”

“In WATER!!” was the enthusiastic reply of my rocket baby. Ha, well, at least he thought science was cool, was unflustered by my obligatory correction that indeed the vinegar egg was actually brighter in color, and he and his friend had fun while being introduced to the scientific method. Win, win, win. Also, we had delicious eggs to munch on.

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Speaking of which, both Eddie and his friend, Jack, are hard core, smack-dab in the middle of the picky-eater phase. Like, I’ve-already-decided-I-don’t-like-it-because-it’s-something-new-and-I-only-like-what-I-like-and-there-will-be-drama-if-I’m-forced-to-try-this-new-food. Even if said new food is cookie dough. True story. But, with a little positive peer pressure they both tried hard boiled egg, and Eddie even decided it was pretty good! (He has since announced he doesn’t like the yellow part. Fair enough.) Another win!

Basically, doing something fun with friends and throwing in a little science is a win! Who knew?! Happy Easter!

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