Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Easter Eggs, Static Electricity & Math

I made these Easter Eggs using Alissa's directions from Crafty Endeavor. I'm leaving the detailed directions and tips up to her, so be sure to see what she has to say. Instead, I'll focus on the STEM connection to make this craft a learning experience for your kids.

Materials you'll need
  • water balloons (filled with air, not water)
  • liquid starch (found in the laundry detergent isle)
  • flour
  • embroidery floss (or any colored string will do) 1 skein per egg
[Note: my photos were taken before I popped the balloons.] 

Whisk together 1 cup of liquid starch with 1/2 cup of flour. Then place your colored string into the goo. Take Alissa's advice and carefully coil the string into the goo mixture to avoid getting knots! Before you wind the string around your balloons, carefully remove excess goo between your fingers. Then wrap the string anyway you please. Its gooey fun, for sure!

Because this involved balloons, bright colors, and sloppy goo, I thought this would be a great craft to do with my 5 year old. So I prepared the set; poured the goo into two 2 bowls, coiled the string, blew up the balloons, set up the step stool, and got out the craft aprons. However, it was not to be. Although this craft SEEMS to has all the trappings of a good kid craft, it didn't work for us. The string-wrapping process requires more fine motor skills than I first thought. The string is slippery and needs to be wrapped tightly in order to maintain the egg shape. This craft should be great for upper elementary kids, and I can see even middle school and high school age kids enjoying this. But in my opinion, its not one for the wee-little ones!

So I couldn't get the kid to make eggs with me, but he LOVED the balloons and figured out himself that they were sticking to his clothes. I gleefully questioned him to see if he could get them to stick on other things! He-he. Therefore, I found another way to engage my son in the process! Let's talk static electricity!

The Science Made Simple Website, describes what static electricity is, and why is has some of the effects that kids notice.

Here's my explanation!

Everything is made of really tiny atoms, and each atom has smaller parts that are positive (protons) and negative (electrons). When you rub the balloon on your hair, some of the negative electrons from the balloon move to your hair. Your hair stands on end because similar charges repel one another, and therefore, each hair tries to "get away" from the hair next to it. Crazy hair standing on end is the result!
Static Electricity is an attraction between two objects with different charges, positive (+) and negative (-).
The balloon is now more positively charged and is attracted to the wall which has more negative charges than the balloon.

Objects "prefer" to be neutral, or to have equal number of positive and negative charges. Therefore, when a charge is built up, it will eventually go back to its neutral state, either quickly (like a lightning strike), or gradually (like the balloon eventually falling off the wall).

Another static electricity example kids are familiar with is how we get shocked touching a door knob after walking across the carpet. Electrons from the carpet are transfered to our bodies, making us more negative than positive. Our bodies are "looking" for a place to get rid of the extra electrons. The shock we feel, (and see while shuffling under the covers in the dark) are the electrons transferring from us, onto the other object, like doorknob.

While you may not choose to bring this up with your kids, they may ask if static electricity is the same as the electricity that is found in the outlets. And it really is the same idea. It all has to do with the transfer of electrons. Static electricity is natural electricity, while batteries, light bulbs, and devices that use magnets to conduct electricity are man's way of manipulating electrons for our own benefit! Yeah electrons!

I didn't talk about all of these things with my son, but he does know that "static electricity" is what keeps the balloon on his head and on the wall!

A Mathematical/Logical Connection

In case static electricity isn't your forte, for older kids I believe asking prompting questions about the patterns that the string makes could turn an otherwise mindless task into an interesting one. I much prefer the eggs whose strings appear to be randomly wrapped around the balloon. However, I found that the random-look does not happen without some planning. I know, right? Planning randomness? Really? Based on what I observed, here might be some questions you can ask yourself or your kids as you construct these beautiful easter eggs.

  1. How does the placement of your thumb effect the pattern you get?
  2. What sort of patterns will you have if you never change your hand placement?
  3. What pattern do you think will give the egg the strongest shell?
  4. In order to make the pattern appear random, what are you having to do to the egg? to your finger placement?
  5. Might there be a mathematical model that could calculate random string wrapping? (Ok, this ones a bit deep, but might get the highly logical/mathematical kids on board!)
  6. Can you design an egg pattern so the strings are mostly parallel to each other?

Here's my youngest getting into my photo shoot!



  1. Hi Darci!

    I'm glad this project was a success for you, and thanks for sharing your string-egg-making experience with me. Your kids are so cute!


  2. This is great! I love that it's not only creative but you took the chance to teach something at the same time. Thanks for sharing!
    Laundry Care

  3. This is awesome, I homeschool my middle child, I am going to do this with her. Found you on Bloggymoms...your newest follower. Stop by and check me out. Looking forward to getting to know you! xxoo-Kim

  4. Thanks for sharing Darci! I always love it when people find ways to educate with art. :-)

  5. Thanks for the details about how to make your eggs. We tried this using white glue but it didn't work out so well. I found there was a glue skin that covered where there should be open holes. I also discovered quite quickly that it isn't a craft for younger kids but I had fun myself.


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