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Have you ever seen those little balancing toys in the store? I always loved those as a kids and wanted to try making one. I am loving this little balancing stick man I made with the kids. He is really adorable and fun to play with. We might have to make a few more since everyone wants him.
This balance toy is a great STEM activity to teach kids about balance and the center of gravity.
We have nicknamed our little guy Dilbert the sideways bouncing man. He likes to lean to the side a little.
How To Make the Balancing Toy
4 Bendy Straws
1 notecard (cut in half lengthwise)
1 toilet paper tube (cut to 1″ sections off for feet)
Curling Ribbon for Hair
Tape the 4 straws together just above the bendy part. Cut the two outer straws shorter to make into arms. Cut two one inch strips off of the toilet paper tube. Tape them onto the bottom of the two longer straws to make feet.
Cut a 3 x 5 notecard in half lengthwise. Tape one of the sections into a circle to make the head. Glue on googly eyes (or draw some on). Curl some ribbon or paper strips to make curly hair. Attach them with tape on the top of the head piece. Tape the whole head on the the top of the straws.
Stick a toothpick in between the middle of the 4 straws. This is the balance point, the point of concentration, or center of gravity.
Once he is all assembled, the kids can decorate him more if they want to. Then just balance the toothpick on your finger and he will teeter-totter around there. It isn’t very hard to assemble, but your kids might need a little help. They will love playing with it, though! If yours is a little off-balance, see what you can do to make it balance evenly- make it a learning activity! 🙂
Science Behind the Balance Toy:
This STEM toy teaches kids about balance and the center of gravity. The center of gravity is the point where the mass of an object is concentrated. So when you build a balance toy, you need to find this point to help it balance well.
Find more examples of this in balancing sculptures or in the art from Alexander Calder. He makes amazing balancing mobiles.
Add more learning and talk about balancing on a high wire. One of our favorite books is the award winning book Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully.