Illustrating the Layers of the Earth Through Egg Dissection

By Laura Hospitál on Apr 10, 2015

The Earth is divided into three layers: the crust, the mantle and the core.  The mantle and the core are further divided into an inner and outer layer.  This simple activity requiring only boiled eggs models the 3 layers of the Earth.  It is most appropriate for elementary students but can be utilized with variations (See below) for middle school students.  
 
Pictures by Ditmar Hospitál

Preparation:

  • Boil 1 egg per student.  It is a good idea to boil an extra egg in case one breaks.

Materials

  • A dull knife for each student
  • A boiled egg for each student
  • Printed procedure and questions

Procedure

There are two versions of the procedure, a simpler and a more difficult version.  I have also attached these 2 versions as Word documents:

Layers of the Earth Activity - First VersionLayers of the Earth Activity - Second Version

 

1st version:  Layers of the Earth Activity - More difficult version

layers of eggs

In this activity, you will dissect an egg and compare the layers of the egg to the layers of the Earth.
  1. Begin by peeling the shell of the egg off. This layer is analogous to the crust of the Earth. Answer the following question before continuing to dissect the egg.
    • How thick is the crust of the Earth? ______________________________________
  2. The next layer of the egg is the white of the egg.  It is the middle layer. It is analogous to the mantle of the Earth. You will cut through this layer until you reach the yellow portion.
    • What is the mantle made of? ___________________________________________
    • Which portion is thick liquid? ___________________________________________
    • Which portion is solid? ________________________________________________
  3. The only portion of the egg remaining is the layer at the center of the egg. It is analogous to the core of the Earth.
    • What do scientists think the core is made of? _______________________________
   

2nd Version:  Layers of the Earth Activity - Simpler version

In this activity, you will dissect an egg and compare the layers of the egg to the layers of the Earth.
  1. Begin by peeling the shell of the egg off. Answer the following question before continuing to dissect the egg.
    • What is the outer layer of the Earth called? ___________________________________
  2. The next layer of the egg is the white of the egg.  It is the middle layer.  You will cut through this layer until you reach the yellow portion.
    • What is the middle layer of the Earth called? __________________________________
  3. The only portion of the egg remaining is the layer at the center of the egg.
    • What is this center layer of the Earth called?___________________________________
   

 

Variations

For more advanced students, both the composition and thickness of the individual layers of the Earth should be both discussed and assessed.   This should include the crust, inner and outer mantle, and inner and outer core.   Crust Thickness -  6 km or 4mi thick Composition - Rock - Includes the continents and the ocean floor   Inner Mantle Thickness:  2,186 km or1,366 mi thick  Composition - silicon, oxygen, aluminum, iron, and magnesium - solid rock   Outer mantle Thickness: 499 kim or 312 mi thick Composition: silicon, oxygen, aluminum, iron, and magnesium -    Inner core Thickness: 1192 km or 745 mi Composition: solid nickel and iron   Outer core Thickness:  2285 km or 1,428 mi Composition: nickel and iron

NGSS Standards:

5 - Earth's Systems
ESS2.A: Earth Materials and Systems
  • Earth’s major systems are the geosphere (solid and molten rock, soil, and sediments), the hydrosphere (water and ice), the atmosphere (air), and the biosphere (living things, including humans). These systems interact in multiple ways to affect Earth’s surface materials and processes. The ocean supports a variety of ecosystems and organisms, shapes landforms, and influences climate. Winds and clouds in the atmosphere interact with the landforms to determine patterns of weather. (5-ESS2-1)
egg dissection
 
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