Jan 23, 2013

WonderWorks: balancing


Finding balance is tricky for explorers of all ages!

Today's Topic: Balancing & Fulcrums
fulcrums (blocks, branches, PVC pipes, hair rollers, pencils, etc.)
levers (wood scraps, blocks, rulers, etc.)
things to balance (toy cars, blocks, pompoms, books, pretty much anything!)


cover art Balancing act / Walsh, Ellen Stoll

 What Kids Do: 
build balancing see-saws and experiment with different lengths, different fulcrum heights, different weights of things to put on the ends to balance... 

 --we also had two pieces of 2x4 lumber at the front near chairs and windowsills (to grab onto) placed on top of either a tiny log or a piece of PVC pipe and kids could stand on them and try to balance themselves!

 --some kids even mixed and matched activities, bringing the cars over to try on the "big scale."
 --some kids just worked with the blocks to create great towers with lots of precise balance in the construction.

 --this young explorer took it even a step further and played with ramps! 

Hindsight Tip: 
--Although I had considered demonstrating the lever's capability to be a catapult and fling stuff around the room, in the end, I'm glad I left that out.  No one discovered it on their own and it was a much calmer class without it.  I WOULD like to do a whole class on that concept sometime in the future, but for today, I was glad to just watch the kids exploring the concept of "balance" in several forms.
--As we played with the materials, we figured out that if the planks we were working with had had a groove in the middle, or two small pieces glued on them in the middle, it might make the "teeter-totter" action a little easier.  As it was, many times, the round fulcrums just rolled away to one side or another when you tried to balance them.  How awesome that the adults learned something in the class too!

 Variations to try: 
--If the weather was warmer, I would have loved to incorporate a trip to a playground with an actual seesaw!
--Mobiles are also very closely related to this project.  I might do them for a future project....

Related Apps: Grover's Number Special is a Sesame Street App that incorporates a lot of counting, some recipe play, and tilting your phone from side-to-side to slide the waiter's tray from one side of the screen to the other to try to catch the necessary ingredients as they fall from the sky.  This tilting action is very similar to the see-sawing that we tried out today.

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