Join us in exploring balance! On this page, we’re collecting a set of starting points, choose-your-own-adventure pathways, and artistic inspirations to launch your own playful exploration of scientific concepts such as stability, equilibrium, symmetry, and center of gravity.
Tinker along with us by sharing what you wonder and create using the hashtag #ExploringBalance.
Stacking is a natural starting point for learners of all ages to engage in explorations of balance and stability.
Playfully explore balance by arranging everyday objects into surprising and complex sculptures!
Imagine possible arrangements for balancing objects or draw your creation from observation.
Create your a new take on the classic balancing bird or invent your own balancing toy.
Take a look at Erwin Wurm's One Minute Sculptures for artistic inspiration for your own speedy balancing composition.
Check out this collection of hands-on balance-related activities from the Exploratorium Teacher's Institute.
Stacking is a natural way to get started with explorations of balance and stability. Try stacking objects that we often see stacked like blocks, boxes, and books. Push your stacking explorations further by incorporating unexpected everyday objects into your tinkering tower! Learn more about tinkering with towers →
For a quick and inspiring entrypoint to exploring balance, take a look at artist Erwin Wurm's One Minute Sculptures. The project features familiar objects (and sometimes human beings) in unexpected and absurd arrangements. Visitors are invited to engage in unusual and even physically challenging interactions with everyday objects including buckets, balls, bicycles and fruit.
As a way to get started in your own explorations of balance, try building a speedy sculpture. Find a couple of objects and try to balance one on top of the other. Or take inspiration from Wurm's sketches and draw your balancing build before you make it (or before it falls down)!
Photo credit: Erwin Wurm, One Minute Sculptures.
Design your own playful kinetic sculptures by tilting, sliding, and suspending ordinary materials into unexpected arrangements. Explore stability, center of gravity, and symmetry through this hands-on, tactile activity.
Find a base, like your finger or bottle, and an object to precariously position on top. Read more about this project on our Balancing Sculptures Activity Page →
Check out what other makers and tinkerers have been building in our community gallery. See your work featured too by sharing your balance builds using the hashtag #ExploringBalance!
Science Snacks: Balance
Science Snacks are hands-on, teacher-tested activities from the Exploratorium's Teacher Institute. The explorations of balance featured below use inexpensive, easily-available materials, offer detailed instructions and images for use in home or school, and are adaptable to a wide range of curricula, content areas, grade levels, and settings. We've included some context for when you might incorporate these exercises into your own balance explorations.
Try this Snack out to support learners who notice that their balancing sculpture is more stable when they add weight to the elements that are lower to the ground. They're noticing the impact of a lower center of gravity, even if they aren't using those words. This Science Snack offers a demonstration and some new vocabulary to wield in explorations of balance, stability, and weight distribution.
A great entrypoint for exploring balance is to start with stacking blocks, books, rocks, and other ordinary materials from around your space. This Science Snack is a great supplement for learners who want to take their stacking explorations a step further and understand some of the conceptual underpinnings of their builds.
Balance can be challenging! Consider supporting learners who are interested in balancing irregular objects by introducing this technique for finding the center of gravity.
Try pairing building balancing sculptures with imaginative drawing (drawing pictures of ideas and plans) or observational drawing (drawing to better understand what we’re looking at). Learn more about drawing balancing sculptures →
Construct your own take on a classic balancing bird toy. You can use our template below, or create your own out of cardstock, cardboard, or paper. Can you make an asymmetrical balancing toy? What happens when you add heavy or light materials to the wings?
1. Download this Balancing Bird Template and print it out.
2. Cut out the bird. Try balancing it on your finger. What do you notice? What do you wonder?
3. Attach paperclips, tape, coins, and other everyday materials to the bird’s wings. How do objects of different weights change how the bird balances? What happens when you arrange objects differently?
Tips: Check out the video below for ideas. Try printing on different materials like cardstock and printer paper. Or trace thebird onto cardboard from a cereal box.
Take it further: Throw out the template completely and design your own balancing toy!