Program 21: BALANCE

Our final program of the session was on BALANCE. What keeps an object in balance? What is balance? Well, there are several definitions, but the most common definition (as noted on Dictionary.com) is:

  • A state of equilibrium or equipoise; equal distribution of weight, amount, etc.
To start us off, we watched a series of very interesting videos to get us in the right frames of mind for the days challenges. First, we saw a pair of videos about the fascinating field of rock or stone balancing. The G3 crew was mesmerized in particular by the gent from the United Kingdom…how do they do that?!?
We then watched a pair of videos from ABC News about the amazing tightrope walking skills of Nik Wallenda. The first video in the pair actually talks about the science of balance within the human body, explaining just what the challenges for a tightrope walker would be. The second video is a look at the last steps of Nik’s world record breaking walk across the main falls of Niagara in 2012.
Challenge #1: The Balancing Girl

Challenge #1

photo-46With the videos behind us, it was time for our first challenge of the day…a little activity I picked up at a conference I attended. I had the image of a girl with her hands outstretched printed on card stock. Each G3 scientist received one cutout girl and 2 paperclips. The challenge:  How can you get the girl to balance on her head on the tip of your finger? It wasn’t long before our clever scientists figured out the trick involved with this activity. By putting a paperclip on either side of the girl (one on each arm), the weight is evenly distributed and the girl is able to balance on her head!  Of course, our scientists did more than just balance her on their fingertips. We had balancing girls on heads, noses, and even tongues :)

Westminster Balancing Bird

Westminster Balancing Bird

For challenge #2, I first showed the groups my very own “Westminster Balancing Bird.” To be honest, I’m not sure where it got its name. But it quite miraculously can balance on the very tip of its beak from just about any angle! The trick? Extra weight in the wing tips helps to stabilize the bird and allow it to balance with its body leaning into empty air. So what activity could be more perfect than making our own Westminster Balancing Birds?

photo-58

Challenge #2

Challenge #2

I provided bird templates cut out from cardstock. The original instructions came from bobscrafts.com, as well as the actual template for creating the bird shape. The G3 scientists were instructed to fold a series of tabs underneath the wing tips and glue them each in place – this provided the extra weight at the wing tips that allows for the masterful balancing. Though the original instructions suggested also gluing a sewing needle underneath the bird as a beak that would stick out from the front, I instead chose to glue a folded staple in place as the beak for each bird template (same result, but less chance of stabbing our poor fingers!) I also provided markers and crayons so our scientists could customize their special birds. Needless to say, there were a lot of balance challenges going on around the room. Again, popular balancing body parts included fingers, noses, and particularly tongues for this one :)

Challenge #3

Challenge #3

photo-49Our final challenge of the day was a tough one. The original idea came from Steve Spangler’s web site. Each scientist – or team of scientists – was presented with a block of wood that had one single nail (size 10) sticking straight out of it. They were also given 11 extra nails (same size as the one sticking out of the block of wood). Their challenge was to balance all 11 nails on the head of the one nail in the block of wood! Many scientists tried to balance one nail vertically straight on top of another – and none could find the solution without a series of careful hints from yours truly. But once they figured out the trick, there was a lot of excitement about successfully completing the challenge. And of course, our G3 scientists are nothing if not creative. So we had some very clever multiple object balance displays erected on the spot.  If you’d like to try this experiment from home, check out the instructional video from Steve Spangler’s web site below.

I hope to see you next session! :)
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Categories: Balance, Forces | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Program 21: BALANCE

  1. Pingback: Nik Wallenda makes another world record! | Gizmos, Gadgets, and Goo (G3): The Mad Scientists Club

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