In today’s Science Corner, I wanted to share a few activities on balance.
What is Balance?
Balance exists when there is an even distribution of weight which allows someone or something to remain upright or steady. Every object has forces, or energies of motion, acting upon it.
A book sitting on a table has the force of gravity pulling it down to the floor and the force of the table strength holding it up. It remains where it is, unless we tilt the table which causes the force of gravity to be greater and the book falls to the floor.
An object is in balance when all the forces that push or pull on it have caused it to remain still.
A Fun Balance Story
There is a popular story about Christopher Columbus and balance. It is said that he was told that discovering the Americas was no great accomplishment. His critics were try to downplay not only his discovery, but his intelligence.
So, Christopher challenged them to make an egg stand on its tip. After much effort they gave up. Columbus stepped in, tapped the egg on the table, which flattened the eggshell on the tip, and the egg was able to stand upright with little effort. He cracked the egg in the process, but the story says that he silenced his critics by proving that he was the smarter man.
You too can astound your students by balancing an egg on a table without breaking it. Here’s how:
- Make a small mound of salt on a hard, smooth, level surface.
- Carefully balance the egg on top of the mound of salt.
- Then, gently blow the excess salt away.
With patience and a steady hand, you should succeed in balancing the egg on its end. It is supported by unseen salt crystals which allow the egg to balance on its end effectively.
A Balance Project
After you have shared with your students about balance, told them the story, and balanced an egg on the table, you can have them use their knowledge to make a balanced gumdrop castle. In this project, the students will examine how balance effects man-made structures by buildings a castle completely out of toothpicks and gumdrops.
- bag of gumdrops (two, if you really like gumdrops J)
- paper plate to build on top of
Steps to complete project
- Begin by making several shapes out of gumdrops and toothpicks, such as squares, triangles and octagons.
- Have the students create and sketch a plan for their castle using what the learned in step 1.
- Have the students build their castle from their sketch.
Once built, have the students evaluate its strength by lightly pushing on it in several areas. Spend some time discussing together ways that the castle could be stronger and make the changes that are possible.
I hope that you and your students have fun using these activities on balance! If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments below!
Such a great activity on balancing! Thank you for sharing. Ok, I have a question about the Columbus story. In the 2nd paragraph, the 2nd sentence, could you clarify what you were trying to say? I’d like to tell the story but want to make sure I don’t leave out any information.
Oops! I mean the 3rd sentence.
Paige Hudson says
Thanks for pointing that out. It should say, “Columbus stepped in, tapped the egg on the table, which flattened the eggshell on the tip, and the egg was able to stand upright with little effort.”
Glad you enjoyed the post!
Larry Bond says
Science learning is fun. Thanks for the information. I truly appreciate it.
Paige Hudson says
I’m glad that you found the article to be useful!