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Going in, feet first

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DECATUR – There's a reason they say “walking on eggshells” to mean stepping slowly and delicately.

“Eggs are fragile,” said Amarie Lee, a fourth-grader at Garfield Montessori School.

oolThe University of Illinois Extension 4-H holds an after-school program at Garfield with a different theme each month. March's theme is eggs, and an incubator in the back of the room holds eggs the children are hoping will hatch any day now. On Monday, the students learned about eggs by walking on them.

Yes, they really walked on them, and for the most part, the eggs didn't break.

“Use even pressure,” cautioned Dena Hyde, program coordinator. “Don't put all your weight on your toes or your heels.”

The kids took off their shoes and most also took off their socks and, holding Hyde's hand, gingerly stepped onto the open egg cartons, cringing a little when the Styrofoam crackled with their weight. But the eggs held. When one didn't – and a few didn't – the rest of the kids razzed the unlucky child who had broken one. When they insisted Hyde take a turn, she broke four.

“Hey, I tried it,” she protested, laughing. “That's what counts. Hands-on is what we do here.”

The reason the eggs didn't break, Amarie explained, is their shape. Before walking on the eggs, each child put an egg in a zippered plastic storage bag and tried squeezing it to see how much pressure it would take before it broke.

“It didn't break when I held it like this,” said Jorja Gould, a fourth-grader, holding her hand palm up. “But when I held it like this,” turning her palm down, “it squished.”

At first, none of the kids really believed they could walk on the eggs without breaking them, and the first few winced, sure they would get raw egg all over their feet. Hyde had to do some fast talking to get one to try it, but once three or four had made it across without incident, everyone wanted to give it a go.

“I think I should go last,” said Rebekah Koester.

Jorja was one of the first to go across and didn't break a single one, and when she stepped off, she raised her fists in the air. “I did it!”


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