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Pesticides and Eggshell Thinning

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    National Health Museum

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Pesticides and Eggshell Thinning

This lab activity is about toxic substances like pesticides and their effects on biological systems. The activity starts with an introduction of how birds sequester calcium to make an egg. Learners are asked to bring eggshells from home from different kinds of birds, if possible. These shells are prepared for analysis. Learners discover how to prepare a primary acid, neutralize a base, and calculate the percentage of CaCO3 in shell material. These results lead to a discussion of how calcium moves through this biochemical system and how a pesticide can prevent calcium from building eggshell. This resource includes tips, some related to safety; adult supervision recommended.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
4 to 24 hours

Learning Time:
1 to 7 days

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 14 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 2-3 eggshells
  • Hot plate with pot of water
  • Mortar and pestle
  • Drying oven
  • Four narrow-mouth containers or flasks
  • Labels
  • Analytical balance
  • Reagent-grade KHP
  • Potassium acid phthalate
  • Distilled water
  • Phenolphthalein
  • 1000 ml volumetric flask
  • NaOH solution
  • Burette
  • Hydrochloric acid
  • Pipette
  • 125 ml flasks
  • Ethanol
  • Data and calculation table
  • Fume hood


  • Life Sciences
    • Cells
      • Chemistry of Life
    • Diversity of Life
      • Animals
    • Ecology
      • Human Impact
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Reactions
      • Acids and Bases
      • Chemistry of Life
  • The Nature of Science
    • Science and Society
      • Risks and Benefits
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Technology and the Environment

Informal Categories

  • Animals
  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Tucker, David


  • All Rights Reserved, Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum, ©2009


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