This week’s Fun Monday was all about gravity and balance in yet another STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) project. The task was to create a balancing robot. The idea comes from the Science for Kids site where a printable robot can also be found.
First pupils coloured their paper robot. Then they glued it to a stiff cardboard background. Then, using two ten-cent coins, the pupils tried to discover how to place the 2 coins on the robot so that the robot would balance on the tip of a finger. Through trial and error each child found the exact spot to place each coin.
Then the real fun began! They balanced the robots on their fingers, on the edges of rulers, on cords and wires and even on the edge of a coin!
The scientific principle of the balancing robot is largely based on the centre of gravity. The centre of gravity is the spot on an object where the weight on one side is equal to the weight on the other side. The centre of gravity changes once the weight is changed anywhere on the object. When there were no coins taped to the robot the centre of gravity was in the centre of the robot. When weight (of the coins) is added to the top of the robot’s hands, the centre of gravity shifts upward toward the head of the robot.
Through experimentation the children learned that when weight is added to an object, the centre of gravity shifts, making it unstable and more likely to fall over. When the new centre of gravity is found the object stabilizes once again.