This is one of the projects for our Instructables: Made In Your Mind (IMIYM) exhibition at the Children’s Museum of Houston . Produced in partnership with Instructables, IMIYM is an exhibit where families work together to build different fun, toy-like projects that help construct knowledge and skills related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics while instilling a “do-it-yourself” attitude in kids so they feel empowered to explore, tinker, and try to make things themselves. To learn more, check out the article here.
This project is a Children's Museum of Houston staff original, but there may be others on Instructables that are also similar that we just didn't spot during our scan. Often, the materials and process for building our projects are designed for use with a large number of visitors (we see over 800,000 annually) and the need to ensure safety in a mostly non-facilitated environment. So, yes, many of these projects have room for improvement in both materials and methodology, which is PRECISELY what we want to encourage the kids to do. So please do share your ideas for improvement and modifications!
Step 1: What You Need:
1 – Pipe cleaner - available at local craft stores
2 – 3/8” Metal washers - available at local hardware stores
We are selective in our materials for cost, ease of use, and safety due to our high traffic (800,000 visitors annually). So, for our purposes, this design worked best. But you may have other ideas - please share!
Step 2: The Video
Step 3: Adding the Pipe Cleaner
Step 4: Add Washers
Step 5: Adjust the Center of Mass
Step 6: To Use
The Impossible Balancer works due to center of mass. To balance a normal stick, you need to center the stick on your finger so the mass of the stick is the same on both sides. But, by adding the washers to the stick, the center of mass of the whole balancer shifts towards the tip of the stick, which is why even though it looks like it shouldn’t balance, it does.
Try adjusting the position of the washers, use different sized sticks and fewer/more washers! Lots of chances to explore and inquire.