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Binary Balance

Source Institutions

    Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

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Binary Balance

This simulated balance beam illustrates binary mathematics. You have a set of weights and the goal is to match an unknown weight, but you only have weights that have mass 1, 2, 4, 8, and 16. You can put each weight on and off the balance, and see how you can create any number from 0 to 31 using different combinations of those numbers. The page hosting the activity also has some explanatory text about binary math, how it works, and how it's used in digital computers to store information.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:

Age Range:
Ages 6 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Simulation


Materials List (per student)

  • Computer with internet access


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Computing
      • Computer Science
      • Information Systems
      • Information Technology
    • Technology
      • Information and Communication
  • Mathematics
    • Algebra
      • Equations and Inequalities
    • Number and Operations
      • Number Systems
  • Physical Sciences
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Mass and Weight

Informal Categories

  • Computers
  • Electronics


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • use mouse

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All Rights Reserved, OMSI, ©1992

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation


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