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Balancing Act

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    Community Science Workshop Network

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Balancing Act

In this activity, learners create improbable looking structures using craft sticks and bamboo skewers. The three structures that learners construct include "Dancer on the Table" (a popsicle stick figure that can balance on one leg by itself), "Dancer on a Tack" (a popsicle stick figure that can spin on a tack), and "Spill the Beans" (a game in which two players take turns placing beans into a cup one by one until the cup tips over spilling the beans). Use these activities individually or as a set to introduce learners to the importance of center of gravity. Note: some tools are required for assembly.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Game, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per student)

  • 1inx2in Baseboard
  • Tack
  • 2 Bamboo skewers
  • 3 Nuts, 3/8 in or larger
  • 8in Dowel, 1/4 in diameter
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Baling wire
  • Cork
  • 7 Pennies
  • 3 Salsa cups
  • Cloth
  • Beans
  • Drill
  • Drill platform
  • 15/64in bit for drill
  • Nail bit, large for bamboo skewers
  • Hole punches
  • Duct tape
  • Markers
  • Colored paper
  • File folders or stiff paper


  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
      • Gravity
      • Rotation Motion
      • Center of Gravity
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process

Informal Categories

  • Games
  • Toys


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

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


  • Watsonville Environmental Science Workshop


  • All Rights Reserved, Watsonville Environmental Science Workshop, ©2011


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