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Balance Exploration with Brazilian Educators - Part 2: Engage as Learners to Explore Balance

Balance Exploration with Brazilian Educators - Part 2: Engage as Learners to Explore Balance

This is Part 2 of a series of blog posts. If you haven’t already, read Part 1 here!

Engage as learners to explore balance:

Simple joy

Ann was trying to build her balancing sculpture higher. She used two keychains as anchors, and put them close to the center. After looking at Veronica’s exploration, she learned a technique of using cardboard connectors. Then, she positioned the pencils upward. 

“Wow! I really didn’t think it was going to work! It’s a total surprise!”  - Ann 

Veronica also had a delightful moment, when she succeeded in attaching a tiny paperclip to the top of her swinging sculpture.

Material discovery

One of the goals of this R&D session was to find good materials to support tinkering with balance exploration. It was interesting to see how everyone brought different household items for various purposes. 

(A & B) Nathan brought a glass cup filled with coffee beans and placed a marker inside. It became a base for his balancing sculpture. 

(C & D) Having a ball underneath the platform provided a good starting point to explore balancing!

(E) The wire in this image is made of paper clips. Marilia unfolded the paper clips and used them as wires.

(F) Ellen brought a skimmer from her kitchen which has so many holes that she can stick anything in it. We called it a “kitchen pegboard”!

(G) Fabiani connected a few matchboxes in her balancing sculpture. 

(H) Fabiani also found that Play-Doh (the pink one) is very useful because you can use it as a weight or connector.

balance connector gif

Veronica found a new material for connectors (Styrofoam)

Veronica “These allow you to connect in different directions. They are flexible and allow you to turn, twist, and change the angles of the materials, and they will find a new balance.”



Process over product




“You make something, and it collapses, you start over again and again -- it’s very process oriented.”



"It’s interesting to get different processes and results using the same materials."

Fabiani experimented in a variety of ways, including making a seesaw sculpture and a balancing sculpture both with similar materials.


Ann “Look at Ellen’s balancing sculpture. It’s moving in many different directions!” 

Ellen “The process was fun, but regarding the product, I’m not sure what I made.” 

Sebastian “This is why we do this. Because it’s the process that is important to our learning, not the product.”

The comments above all provided interesting insights into the process of tinkering. The process of tinkering is iterative and messy. You're experimenting with phenomena with your hands without fully knowing what will happen, but the materials are honest. They give you feedback, and then you’ll adjust your plans based on what happens to your project as you go. We believe that is the most interesting part in tinkering. 

So then, how can we highlight such a learner's process instead of the product?

Use of Padlet for celebrating the process over product

We want learners to talk about tentative ideas and their works-in-progress [process] more than what they made [product]. Padlet is a virtual shared workspace where we can share photos and texts when we work remotely. It is easy to use and encourages cross-pollination of ideas and instant collaborations (we can see when anyone uploads something on the wall). We like to use Padlet as a shared wall of messy tentative ideas rather than as a gallery of beautiful final outcomes. For that reason, we encourage ourselves to take photos often and post them on Padlet as we go. 

The facilitator's voice could also determine whether the use of Padlet is intended to highlight the process for learners. If you'd like to emphasize the process rather than the product, you could actively share the learner's discoveries, struggles, and small successes with the group. Take pictures or encourage learners to document on their own. What you say as a facilitator can also help to clarify the Padlet's role: It's a place to collect half baked ideas, not a place to display the final outcomes.

Later on, we also used those photos and documentations to reflect on our experiences. 

>> Read Part 3 of this blog series "Engage as Educators to Reflect on the Experience"


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This project was made possible through generous support from the LEGO Foundation.