This week’s Science Storytime theme was balancing. We read the book Balancing Act by Ellen Stohl Walsh and talked about balancing things, why the seesaw in the book moved in the ways that it did, and our life experiences with balancing.
Next we got to test our own balancing demonstrators. Inspired by a pinterest post, I had made some clotheshanger balances by punching holes in paper cups and then tying them to a clotheshanger. The original post used three strings for better balance, and I can see how that design would have been more stable, but I opted for only two strings per cup to save myself some time while making them en masse, and while they were slightly wobbly it did not appear to pose a problem for any of the children. We have a number of fairly heavy wooden magnet blocks, which is what I supplied as the initial weight for playing around with. Once the children had experienced what would happen when there were equal or unequal numbers of blocks in the two cups, they moved on to seeing how many of the plastic building blocks, puzzle pieces, or other toys they needed to balance the weight of one relatively heavy magnet block. Some children only needed to try a couple of different weights before deciding that they understood the concept and were done with it. Other children were interested in watching the clotheshangers become tipped with an imbalance, then right itself again when the counterbalance was applied and repeated the experience several times.
A homeschooler had donated a balance bar kit that I also brought out and let everyone play with. It’s a standard balance with numbers on it. The neat thing to me, is that it can demonstrate addition properties. For instance, if you put a weight on number 8 on one side, it can be balanced by weights on the 3 and 5 on the other side. This was a little too abstract for most of my audience, but they enjoyed experimenting with the balance bar itself. Again, the “magic” of unbalancing the bar, only to see it reset when the proper weight had been added seemed to be the main draw. One of the older children was a homeschooler doing kindergarten work, and he really seemed to “get” the concept of the addition properties. He and his mother experimented with the balance bar for quite a long time.