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Ag Experiment #2 Brazil Nut

This experiment will show you why the largest nuts in a can of mixed nuts always seem to come to the top.

You will need:

  • 1 - cup of small dry beans, such as black beans, soybeans or navy beans
  • 1 - cup of medium-sized dry beans, such as kidney beans or pinto beans
  • 1 - cup of large dry beans, such as lima beans or large fava beans
  • 1 - large glass jar (holds at least 6 cups)


  1. Pour the large beans into the jar, then the medium-sized ones, then the small ones.
  2. Look at the side of the jar. The beans will be more or less separated into layers, with a little mixing together in places.
  3. Put the jar on a table and start shaking it gently from side to side. Watch what the beans do as you shake the jar.
  4. Do the experiment 2 or 3 times to observe the action.

Does this explain why the large nuts are at the top of a jar or can of mixed nuts?

Ways to use this experiment:

  1. Observation and evaluation. What happened?
  2. Hypothesis and creative thinking. Why did this happen?
  3. Application. Is this information relevant to anything we use daily? Does it apply to agriculture? Does it apply to business.
  4. Research. Is there a scientific explanation for this experiment.
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