It Is Not Always About Food: Sham el-Nessim


Sham el-Nessim, or Spring Festival, is one of the oldest Egyptian festivals celebrated by all Egyptians. Thus, it is, considered a national holiday and is more of a family event. The Festival dates back to more than 4500 years, where ancient Egyptians celebrated their harvest season “Shemu”; in modern times, it is celebrated on the Monday following the Orthodox Easter Sunday. Sham el-Nessim in Arabic literally means a whiff of the fresh breeze, and that is how the Egyptian families celebrate it with the beginning of Spring, where they enjoy the nature and nice weather of Egypt at public places.

Like all major festivals in Egypt, Sham el-Nessim is associated with food. Egyptians have retained the tradition of their ancestors and celebrate by eating salted fish, known as fesikh, and green onions. They also eat colored eggs, as eggs have long been a symbol of rebirth and hope, same as Spring, which is the symbol of new life.

This year, why not make Sham el-Nessim more fun and carry out one or more science experiments with your children? Enjoy Spring with wonderful, yet simple and easy, science experiments for both playing and learning.

Color-Changing Flowers

For this experiment, you need to have white flowers, transparent jars, and different food coloring. Fill the jars with tap water and add 2–5 drops of food coloring into it, one color each. Trim 1.5 cm of the stem of each flower before placing them in the jars, one flower each; then keep the jars in a cool place overnight.

Observe how the petal colors change over time into the colors the flowers were immersed in. Some flowers might take longer; you, thus, need to keep the flowers fresh for longer by changing the water entirely every 2–3 days.

Now you can explain to your kids how flowers and plants absorb water through their roots. You can also try cutting along the stem into two halves, insert each one into a different jar and observe how the petals change into the colors the flowers were immersed in. Now, you can explain that when there are no roots, the water flows from the cut in the stems to the petals directly.

Floating Eggs

Fill a transparent bowl to about two-thirds with tap water. Drop the egg carefully into the bowl and observe how it sinks to the bottom. Remove the egg from the bowl, add enough table salt then add the egg into the bowl again. Now observe the egg and how it floats.

You can explain to your kids that objects sink in water when their density is higher than that of water. When table salt was added, it increased the density of water, making it heavier than the egg; thus, the egg floated. You can repeat the same experiment using different objects and have fun while observing floating and sinking objects.

Strong Eggshells

Everyone thinks that eggshells are fragile; try this experiment and you will notice you are wrong. After you enjoy eating boiled eggs, make use of four pieces of eggshells of the same height, placing them in a rectangular shape. Slowly place some books at their top and watch how many books you can add before the shell cracks.

Explain to your kids that some shapes are stronger than others; what seem fragile are actually strong in certain ways. Here, the eggshells form a dome, which helps in spreading weight evenly; thus, no part of it supports more weight than the other.

Now, you have played with your kids and you both enjoyed unforgettable science experiments. Always remember that festivals are not always about food!


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SCIplanet is a bilingual edutainment science magazine published by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Planetarium Science Center and developed by the Cultural Outreach Publications Unit ...
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