The egg whites in these genetically-modified eggs contain an anti-cancer protein.The scientists who produced Dolly, the first cloned sheep, recently announced a new innovation: anti-cancer eggs.

In this case, it is no mystery that the chicken came before the egg. The scientists developed genetically-modified chickens, which produce eggs that contain cancer-fighting proteins.

Medical treatments, including drug prescriptions, are often expensive. But chicken eggs are relatively cheap to produce, which means that this anti-cancer drug—and possibly other medicines—could easily be made affordable for everyone.

Even without such enhancements, regular eggs, from regular chickens, are pretty amazing—and tasty. The average American eats about 250 eggs every year! Eggs are a good source of protein and can be prepared in a variety of ways: boiled, scrambled, or over-easy, for example. Eggs are also crucial ingredients used in most cakes, cookies, casseroles, and other common recipes. In fact, without eggs, many of these foods would flop like a bad soufflé.

So what makes the egg so incredible? Find out for yourself during this week’s lesson, as you explore the nature and science of eggs.

An Egg-venture

When you beat egg whites, the air bubbles act to unfold the egg proteins.Start your egg-citing egg-venture at the Alberta Egg Growers site For Kids. You can return to this page later for further exploring, but for now, test your egg-head skills with A Dozen Grade-A Questions. Follow the instructions as you move through this Egg-centric Egg Quiz.

(To find out why the vitamins contained in eggs are important, also read about Vitamins at the KidsHealth Web site.)

What percentage of protein do eggs contain? How are Omega-3 eggs produced? Why do you think the kind of food that a chicken eats affects what is in the eggs it lays?

Now that you have learned a little about the incredible healthy egg, put on your apron to learn about the Science of Cooking Eggs in the Exploratorium kitchen.

Start by examining the Science of Eggs. What exactly is protein made of? What happens to eggs when you heat them or beat them? What does it mean if an amino acid is hydrophilic or hydrophobic? In what kinds of recipes, and for what purpose, is an egg’s yolk used as an emulsifier?

Look closely at the Anatomy of an Egg. Copy the diagram on a piece of paper, labeling the parts and writing a sentence that describes each part’s purpose or composition.

How cheap would egg production be if the process was all done manually?Next, visit An Organic Egg Farm. In many large, commercial egg producing companies, chickens are often kept in small cages that restrict their movement. But as you will see at this farm, chickens get some extra room to stretch their legs and lead a healthier life. As you explore the farm, pay attention to the egg production process and diagram each step of the process on a piece of paper.

Also, think about these questions along the way: Why do you think the students had to wear plastic booties before entering the chicken coop? Why is artificial light used during winter months? How many egg-laying chickens does it take to feed the average American’s egg consumption? What do you think could happen if the eggs did not get thoroughly cleaned and inspected? About how old are the eggs when they arrive at the grocery store?

Examine your diagram and identify steps in which the process was automated using machines. On a separate piece of paper, mirror the original diagram, except for steps in which a machine is used. For those steps, describe the process as if it were done manually—meaning by human hands rather than by machinery. With classmates, compare and contrast the two production methods.

Try making a Naked Egg!Egg-speriments

To really get to know your eggs, there is nothing like the hands-on approach. So, get your hands on an egg or two, and try one or more experiments and recipes.

In the Exploratorium’s Kitchen Lab, for example, you can Make a Naked Egg, Experiment with Naked Eggs, and Take an Egg for a Spin to find out if an egg in the shell is raw or cooked. Also, try some of the Exploratorium’s Recipes, like Deviled Eggs. Why is it best to let the eggs sit in hot water rather than boiling them?

Back at the Alberta Egg Producers site, try some other Egg-Science experiments—note that the Egg-speriments are grouped as easy and not-so-easy. At this site, you can also find and try other Egg-cellent Recipes,

Try at least one experiment or recipe. As you do so, think about how the recipe or experiment relies on the egg’s natural properties. Create a diagram that outlines the process you followed, step by step. Explain your process to classmates, and describe how the egg’s properties related to the process and affected the outcome or product.

Newspaper Activities

Browse through pages in The Sacramento Bee to find recipes made using eggs. Select three recipes for different types of dishes (for example, do not choose three cake recipes or three casserole recipes). Diagram each recipe by outlining the process of making it, step by step. Make sure to describe when an action is taken, such as beating, heating, or mixing with other ingredients. Present your recipe diagrams to classmates, and also tell what you think would happen to each dish if eggs were omitted.

Weekly News Topics

Each week The Bee publishes a new weekly news topic for students who use the Internet and newspaper as learning resources. The weekly news topic are tied to current events in the news and help students extend their knowledge on a wide range of subjects. Click here to return to the table of contents.

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