Table of Contents for #04 Balancing:
Preparation and Support
A TOPS Model for Effective Science Teaching Getting Ready Gathering Materials Sequencing Task Cards Gaining a Whole Perspective Long Range Objectives Review/Test Questions
Activities and Lesson Notes
- 1. Center of Gravity
- 2. Plumb Line
- 3. Tipsy
- 4. Against the Wall
- 5. Stable / Unstable / Neutral
- 6. Dancing on a Pinhead
- 7. Meter Stick Balance
- 8. Math in the Balance (1)
- 9. Math in the Balance (2)
- 10. Penny's Worth
- 11. Small Change
- 12. Beam Me Up!
- 13. Unequal Arms
- 14. Cantilever
- 15. Weigh a Friend
- 16. Your Mass in Kilograms
tilt gauge mobile strips
Complete Master List for #04 Balancing:
Key: (1st/2nd/3rd) denote needed quantities: (1st) enough for 1 student doing all activities; (2nd) enough for 30 students working in self-paced pairs; (3rd) enough for 30 students working in pairs on the same lesson. Starred* items may be purchased below.
- 3/25/30: 4x6 inch index cards
- 1/10/10: meter sticks
- * 2/10/20: straight pins
- 3/30/30: medium-sized cans
- 8/80/80: pennies
- * 1/5/5: rolls masking tape
- * 1/3/3: spools thread
- 1/10/10: scissors
- * 1/3/3: boxes paper clips
- 1/10/10: full sheets newspaper
- 2/20/20: size-D batteries, dead or alive
- * 3/12/30: wooden clothespins
- * 1/4/10: plastic drinking straws
- * 6/60/60: rubber bands
- * 1/10/10: medium-sized nails
- 1/10/10: each of assorted coins: pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters
- * 1/3/3: rolls clear tape
- 1/1/1: roll waxed paper
- * 1/3/10: 10 mL graduates
- 1/10/10: hand calculator
- 1/1/1: wood, hammer and nails to construct a stable ground-level see-saw
- 1/1/1: bathroom scales
- 2/6/20: gallon plastic milk cartons with handles and lids
- 2/6/20: feet of cord or thin rope
- 1/1/1: large bowl
Tape - clear
3/4 inch x 1000 inch roll
Your standard desk tape with matte write-on surface.
These are handy lab items to keep in stock. We use them as bulb holders, tongs, clips, and more.
Graduated Cylinder - 10 mL
shatter resistant plastic on stable base
An important lab inquiry tool for measuring small liquid volumes.
Tape - masking
3/4 inch x 55 yd roll
A handy science supply used in most TOPS modules.
Nails - 2 1/2 inch
steel carpenter's flat-head nail, 10-penny
Used in some TOPS titles. A surprisingly handy scientific supply.
Product #12000 not available.
Rubber Bands - assorted
10 grams each of thin, medium and thick
You get 30 grams of soft, strong, durable rubber bands: thin #16 (about 50), medium #32 (about 20), and heavy-duty #64 (about 10). These sizes are specifically selected to work in most TOPS experiments.
steel, one and 1/16 inch long
Used in many TOPS experiments. Sometimes required for their magnetic properties. Don't purchase aluminum straight pins by mistake.
Straws - straight
Any length straw, between 0.20 and 0.25 inches in diameter is suitable. Grocery stores generally carry straws with flexible "elbows." You can use those if you cut off the bendable section before using.
light duty, 25 yd spool
Just plain old thread. Used in many TOPS titles, especially in Pendulums #34.
Teaching Tips for #04 Balancing:
We encourage improvisation - it's one of the main goals of our hands-on approach! You and your students might invent a simpler, sturdier or more accurate system; might ask a better question; might design a better extension. Hooray for ingenuity! When this occurs, we'd love to hear about it and share it with other educators. Please send ideas and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
National Science Education Standards (NRC 1996) for #04 Balancing:
These 20 Activity Sheets promote excellence in science teaching by these NSES criteria:
Teachers of science...
A: ...plan an inquiry-based science program. (p. 30)
B: ...guide and facilitate learning. (p. 32)
C: ...engage in ongoing assessment of their teaching and of student learning. (p. 37)
D: ...design and manage learning environments that provide students with the time, space, and resources needed for learning science. (p. 43)
These 20 Activity Sheets contain fundamental content as defined by these NSES guidelines (p. 109).
Represent a central event or phenomenon in the natural world.
Represent a central scientific idea and organizing principle.
Have rich explanatory power.
Guide fruitful investigations.
Apply to situations and contexts common to everyday experiences.
Can be linked to meaningful learning experiences.
Are developmentally appropriate for students at the grade level specified.
Unifying Concepts and Processes
NSES Framework: Systems, order, and organization Evidence, models and explanation Constancy, change, and measurement Evolution and equilibrium Form and function
Core Concepts/Processes: A balance beam is a predictable, mathematical, equilibrium system: The sum of products (weight x pivot distance) on one side of a balance beam equals the sum of these products on the opposite side.
Science as Inquiry (content standard A)
NSES Framework: Identify questions that can be answered through scientific investigations. Design and conduct a scientific investigation. Use appropriate tools and techniques to gather, analyze, and interpret data. Develop descriptions, explanations, predictions, and models using evidence. Think critically and logically to connect evidence and explanations. Communicate scientific procedures and explanations. Use mathematics in all aspects of scientific inquiry.
Core Inquiries: Placing known weight on one side of a balance beam, calculate unknown weight on the opposite side.
Physical Science (content standard B)
NSES Framework: Properties and changes of properties in matter Motions and forces
Core Content: Center of gravity Plumb lines Stable, unstable and neutral equilibrium Cantilevers Mobiles Balance beams Sensitivity Grams and kilograms
Science and Technology (content standard E)
NSES Framework: Abilities of technological design Understanding about science and technology
Core Content: Apply the mathematics of balance beams to cantilevers and mobiles.