Balancing Act

Marbles Rings

Explore weight in a hands-on way!  Which is heavier? Crayons or markers?  Pennies or nicklels?  Build your own balance scale to find out.   

Did You Know?  

What is a balance scale?  A device for weighing that is equal on both sides. The scale will only be even if one side weighs the same as the other.  When objects are different weights, the heavier side will dip down, and the lighter side will rise.    

What You Need: 

  • Hanger 
  • String 
  • Paper cups 
  • Hole punch 
  • Fun things to weigh 

What You Do: 

  1. Punch 2 holes in the top portion of each cup, equal distance apart. 
  2. Cut 2 equal lengths of string.   
  3. Tie the string to the holes in the cups to make buckets. 
  4. Hook the “buckets” onto your hanger.  One on each side.  
  5. Hook the hanger on a doorknob or cabinet hook. Now you’ve got a balance scale. 
  6. Gather things that will fit in the cups. 
  7. Predict which item is heaviest.  Place the items in the buckets and find out.  You’ll know which is heavier by observing which cup tips the scale and dips lower.  The lighter items will rise. 

Words to Use: 

  • Balance Scale: An instrument for weighing things, with two dishes that hang from a bar. 
  • Weight: How heavy something is when you measure it. 
  • Heavy:  Weighing a lot. 
  • Light: Not very heavy. 
  • Equal: The same in size, number, amount, value etc. as something else. 

What to Talk About: 

  1. What do you think will be heavier?  Lighter?  Why?   
  2. What happened?  How do you know? 
  3. How many objects were on each side?  Did it make a difference how many objects there were? 
  4. How can you make the cups balance?  That means equal on each side.  Try it. 
  5. Try finding two alike things like apples or pencils.  Test to see if they are alike in weight too. 

Change It Up:  

  • Pick something to weigh on a bathroom scale (like marbles or pennies).  Put them in one of your balance scale cups.  Now you know how much one side weighs.  You can weigh other things and have an idea of what they weigh. 
  • What other ways can you make a balance scale?  Here’s a hint: A See Saw! 
  • Rank your items from lightest to heaviest.   

Learning Connections:  

  • Critical Thinking 
  • Curiosity 
  • Problem-solving 
  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) 
  • Using Tools 

Curriculum Connections: NC Standard Course of Study 

Math:  NC.K.CC.5-6, MC.K.MD.1-3 

Science: K.P.2 

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