Perching Parrot

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Learners explore the concepts of equilibrium and center of mass by seeing how non-symmetrical objects balance. They balance a paper parrot cut-out on a wire coat hanger and find that their parrot exists in stable equilibrium — it returns to its balancing point after being disturbed. This activity can be combined with other activities to create a larger lesson. Resource contains suggestions for assessment, extensions, and scaling for different levels of learners.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per student

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration


Materials List (per student)

  • Empty cereal box or cardboard
  • Wire hanger (alternative: string)
  • Large paper clips
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Colored markers
  • pencils or crayons
  • Tape


  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
      • Center of Gravity


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:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Duren, Sabre ; Heavner, Ben ; Schaefer Zarske, Malinda ; Carlson, Denise

Source Collection

  • TeachEngineering


  • All rights reserved, Regents of the University of Colorado, 2004

Funding Sources:

  • Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE)
  • U.S. Department of Education
  • National Science Foundation, 0226322