Wednesday, May 9, 2012

"The Balance Game" - Science Birthday Lesson

J wanted me to bring cupcakes and science to his school for his birthday. We've been extremely busy between some pretty gross bugs that have been passed around the family, working super hard on finishing the Pepsi Grant, and planning J's baseball birthday party.

I had gone to RAFT on my birthday last month and got one of these balances, to which J absolutely loved!  I went back last week and got 8 more to bring to school.  If you don't have access to a cheap, plastic balance, don't fret!  I'll post soon about other objects you can use as a scale/balance.

The lesson objectives with my 2-3 yr olds:
  • Introduction to weight and balance.
  • Play a guessing game using science.
  • Be able to identify which side of the balance was heavier and to add more weight to the other side.

A balanced balance :-)

Can you guess which side is heavier?  Which side should we add weight to make it look like the balance above?  Yep, you would add weight to the side that is up.  If that side goes down to the table, you've added too much weight.  Try again with something lighter.  If the side stays up in the air, try something heavier to try to level it.

I placed some extra tape below the cup above to counter the tape I put over different objects in different cups.  The cup with tape on the top was placed opposite of the taped down empty cup.  The kids selected objects to choose from to place in the empty cup and see if they could "balance" the scale, seeing if they could guess what was in it.

Objects to choose from: milk cap, big ball, sponge, penny, bouncy balls

I was hoping to do this in a few groups of maybe 4-5 kids, but the kids were just enthusiastic.  I ended up playing the guessing game surrounded by ~15 2-3 year olds on a small picnic table.  They enjoyed guessing what was in the cup and seeing what happened.  Since I was greatly outnumbered, I didn't take pics of the guessing game.

Then, I gave the kids free play with the balance.  They tried to see which objects were heavier than others.

The littler ball was heavier.

There was an equal number of rocks, but one side was heavier!

Yay, the kids balanced rocks!

And sponges!

Overall, J and his friends were very excited for this lesson.  It's fun to have such an enthusiastic group of kids!

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