The art of balancing is no small feat! Try making a homemade balance toy for a hands-on experiment and game exploring physics.
1 ½” wood block
12” bamboo skewers cut in half or 6" skewers
beads with large center holes
acrylic paint and brush (optional)
drill & 3/16” drill bit (adults only)
toy wood block or full water bottle (for the stand)
Paint your wood block and let dry.
Make the parts (Adults only)
Step One Drill a hole in the center of four contiguous faces on the wood block.
Step Two Cut out the skewers in half and trim the tip of the pointed end of the skewer. Do not cut the pointed end off completely! A tapered end makes for easier threading
Assemble the toy (Kids)
Step Three Place the skewers with two blunt ends in two adjacent holes in the wood block. Place the skewers with the tapered ends in the other two holes with the pointed side facing out.
Step Four Take a chunk of clay and roll it into two equally sized balls. Each ball should be abut 1 ½” in diameter. Place one clay ball on each of the blunt ended skewers.
Step Five Place your toy on a stand/support and make sure it is balanced. If it is tipping to one side, remove bits of clay until you get the toy balanced in the center.
How to play
Place beads on each of the upper skewers and try to keep the sides balanced while you do it. Notice how small changes affect the balance of the toy and adjust accordingly.
The science behind this toy
Our balance toy demonstrates the concept of equilibrium, which is the state of balance between forces on opposite sides, in this cast the weight of the beads.
Ana Dziengel is an architect, award winning furniture designer, and blogger. In 2012 Ana left behind an architecture career to be a SAHM, professional crafter, amateur scientist, and impromtu art teacher to her three young children.