Stiff Bones, Bendy Bones

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Bones are stiff, which helps us lift heavy things and walk around, but they are also somewhat flexible, which lets them bend slightly. In this activity, learners experiment with chicken bones in 3 different solutions (water, vinegar, and bleach) to discover what makes our bones both stiff and flexible. Learners investigate the effects of soaking bones in the solutions over several days, tracking differences in flexibility. Step-by-step instructions are included with photos along with safety recommendations. Activity guide includes a "What's going on?" explanation and connections to relevant science concepts including the calcium and collagen make-up of bones and keeping bones healthy.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

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

Age Range:
Ages 8 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)

  • at least 3 chicken bones
  • 3 jars (or cups)-about 500mL (16 oz) each
  • access to water
  • access to a stove or hotplate
  • small cooking pot
  • about 500mL of bleach
  • large bowl
  • tongs
  • paper towels
  • masking tape
  • marker


  • Life Sciences
    • Human Body
      • Skeleton
      • Health and Nutrition
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemistry of Life


Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • DIY Science Apps


  • , The Regents of the University of California, 2015

Funding Source:

  • National Institutes of Health Science Education Partnership Award, 5R25OD010543-02