Brunelleschi's Dome - Weight Distribution Activity for Kids

Renaissance History Unit - Week 3: We did a weight distribution, engineering activity in conjunction with a study on Brunelleschi's Dome.

Brunelleschi was a Renaissance artist and engineer from Florence, Italy. Although he lost the competition to design doors of bronze for the Florence Baptistery, he went on to design a fantastic dome.

Construction of the Santa Maria del Fiore was nearly complete, but there was no plan in place for the construction of the dome. Brunelleschi won the contract and his design from 1420 still rests atop the Cathedral. 

This video from the Khan Academy explains the double dome construction and the herringbone design on the outer shell.

Weight Distribution Project
Heavy Books or Weights

The challenge was to support as much weight as possible using four egg shells taped around the middle and broken in half.

The kids were given the eggs and free to arrange them how they thought would best support weight.

The kids discussed the foot print of their eggs.

The designs were tested by placing a clipboard atop the egg shells and putting weights on top until the shells cracked. 

In the most successful layouts the eggs were in a square pattern. This was a great project to learn about weight distribution. I'm encouraging my kids to repeat it to see how much additional weight can be supported using six egg shell domes with different layouts. In addition, since we have a seemingly endless supply of toilet paper rolls I'm encouraging them as a substitute for egg shells.

Check out these great blog hops. They are filled with activity ideas for kids.

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