Make a Balance / Scale

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In this activity, learners create a kind of balance device using a wire coat hanger, some string, and paper cups. Learners use the balance to see how many jellybeans equals an apple, or create a scale and try to find the exact weight of something.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 4 - 11

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)

  • wire clothes hanger
  • 2 paper cups
  • masking tape
  • string
  • paper
  • pencil
  • index card


  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Units of Measurement
  • Physical Sciences
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Mass and Weight
      • Volume and Density


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, Science Museum of Minnesota, 1995

Funding Sources:

  • Unisys
  • Science Learning Network
  • National Science Foundation