Brazil Nut Effect

Whenever a can of mixed nuts is opened, the brazil nuts tend to be on the top. This phenomenon seems counterintuitive, because the brazil nuts are more massive than the peanuts, cashews and other nuts in the can. How can this be?

Grades Covered: 4 through 12
Subjects Covered: Physical Science

Curriculum topics:
  • Motion
  • Forces
  • Chemical & Physical Properties
  • Earth Science
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Idea Sheets are cross-referenced to subjects listed in the Common Core, Next Generation Science Standards, and California Content Standards.

  • Conduct an investigation to determine whether the mixing of two or more substances results in new substances. ||Next Generation Science Standards||Grade 5||Physical Science||Matter and its Interactions

  • Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth’s surface at varying time and spatial scales. [Examples of geoscience processes include surface weathering and deposition by the movements of water, ice, and wind. ||Next Generation Science Standards||Middle School||Earth and Space Science||Earth’s Systems