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A Question of Balance

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A Question of Balance

In this activity, learners explore how engineers use scales and measures when designing a manufacturing process to ensure that final products are uniform in weight or count. Learners explore different types of scales, and are challenged to design and build a system to deliver a uniform count or weight of marbles or paperclips into a series of four boxes or jars. They test their systems and evaluate the systems of other teams.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
2 to 4 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Manufacturing Engineering
    • Technology
      • Manufacturing
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Size and Scale
  • Physical Sciences
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Mass and Weight
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Research and Development
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • 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



  • All Rights Reserved, IEEE,


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  • Thumbnail STEM by mowen3 on 2017-01-11