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Simple Science Experiment to Learn What Makes Bones Hard

Simple Science Experiment to Learn What Makes Bones Hard

Bones are hard and give our body shape. My kids learned this when we talked about functions of bones back in early elementary (skeletal function hands-on learning ideas here).

We are studying anatomy again and along with it a little nutrition. Making Bendy Bones is a fun example of why you need calcium! 

Bendy Bone Science Experiment

Supplies to Make Bones that Bend

  • chicken bone (any, but the long bones are most impressive)
  • glass
  • vinegar

How to Make a Bendy Bone

This experiment is a really easy one, but it does require some patience especially if you choose a larger bone! I made sure to have my daughter try to bend or break the bone before we started. 

First, put your chosen chicken bone in a glass. Next, cover with vinegar. Now wait. 

If you have tried dissolving eggshells (another fun experiment you should definitely do), you may expect this to happen over night. And it  might if you chose a small bone like the wish bone. But if you chose a larger bone be prepared to wait longer. 

Check on your bone every couple days, and replace the vinegar. 

At some point when you check on your bone, you will be able to bend it! We had a large long bone from a mature rooster, so ours actually took a couple weeks! Be patient! 

Why did the Chicken Bone Become Bendy

Now you have a bendy bone which is pretty cool. It still looks like a bone, the shape didn't change at all until you apply force, and it bends instead of breaking. 

But why?

Well, remember the naked egg experiment? The egg shell disappeared because the calcium dissolved in the acidic vinegar. The same thing happens to the bone. The calcium that helps make our bones rigid leaves the bone when soaked in vinegar. The rest of the bone structure remains making it appear normal until you try to bend it!

This isn't a perfect display of what happens when you aren't consuming enough calcium, but it does show how your bones weaken. Without calcium your bones become weak and break easily. No doubt the stress we put on these bones to bend them would break the bones in someone with osteoporosis, but the experiment definitely shows the kids how, without calcium, the skeletal system cannot maintain it's function of providing structure. 

This life size body map is another fun way to explore anatomy with your kids! 

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