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Summer Brain Games

Experiment: Balance Bird

Can you stand on one leg or spin around without falling down? Staying upright is all about balance. Make a balance bird to see some surprising feats of balance.

Materials

Cardstock
Balance bird template (PDF)
Scissors
Straw
Pennies
Tape
Crayons, markers, colored pencils (optional)

Instructions

  1. Download the balance bird template (PDF). Print it on cardstock, or print it on regular paper and trace the shape onto cardstock. Cut the bird out along the outline. You can use a file folder or cardboard from a cereal box, just make sure the bird cutout doesn’t have any folds or creases in it. If you’d like, you can color your bird.
  2. Try balancing the bird by putting the beak on your finger. Does it stay?
  3. Fold the straw in half and tape it to the underside of the bird so the center of the straw is just behind the head and the bent sides extend under the wings. Tape one penny near the tips of the wings on the underside of the bird. Try to put them the same distances from the edges on both sides.
  4. Flip the bird over. Place the tip of the bird’s beak on your finger and it should balance.

What's Happening?

For an object to balance, it needs to be supported directly underneath its center of gravity. The center of gravity is the point where all weight is evenly dispersed and all sides are balanced. Without the pennies, the bird can’t be balanced on its beak because the center of gravity is near the middle of the bird. When the pennies are put on the wings, the center of gravity is now located at the tip of the beak and it can be balanced on a fingertip.

Downloads

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