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This activity explores the concept of center of gravity by having learners build a Jitterbug--a motorized toy that seems to dance--using a recycled CD and a DC motor. Also available: a concept map and a "Going Further" document that suggests variations on this activity. [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on Archive.org.]

Quick Guide

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Type:


Materials List (per student)

  • a hot glue gun and glue stick (Caution: Children should not use a glue gun without adult supervision; you can also substitute duct tape for the glue)
  • 6 jumbo paper clips (or six pieces of thick wire, each approximately 6 inches long)
  • wire cutters
  • a recycled CD
  • pliers (optional—for bending wire)
  • scissors
  • a mini jumper lead (wire with alligator clips at each end), the shorter the better
  • wire strippers
  • duct tape or colored masking tape
  • electric hobby motor (3 volts DC or less)
  • battery (AA)
  • 3/4 to 1 inch of glue stick (as an off-center weight—alternately, you could use a penny or an eraser)
  • for decoration: pipe cleaners, glitter, feathers, googly eyes, felt, and other craft materials


  • Physical Sciences
    • Electricity and Magnetism
      • Electric Motors
    • Motion and Forces
      • Center of Gravity

Informal Categories

  • Electronics
  • Toys


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • The Exploratorium

Source Collection

  • Science After School Consumer's Guide


  • All rights reserved, The Exploratorium, 2007

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation