STREAM Activity: Make a Scale

What do you predict will weigh more?

Activity best for children age 2 and up

Today we are going to be learning how to make a simple scale and how we can use that scale to measure objects you may have around your house.  There are many types of scales but today our scale is going to be used to measure weight of objects in comparison to other objects.  Another example of a scale you may have at your house is one that you stand on. That scale shows you how much your body weighs, where the scale we are going to make today is a balance scale.

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1 Clothing hanger

2 Pieces of yard that are the same length

2 Cups or bowls


Small weights or rocks (coins, marbles, etc)

Household objects

Guiding Questions:

How important is it for us to be precise when measuring things?

If one of the cups goes down what does that mean?

Do you encounter anything like this in your normal life? Hint: Seesaw on a playground


Step 1

Gather your materials.

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Step 2

Tape one end of the yarn to the cup.  Thread the other end of the yarn through the large opening in the middle of the clothes hanger and fasten the other end of the yarn to the other end of the cup.  Do this for both cups.

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Step 3

Tape the connection point where the yarn and the clothes hanger meet.  NOTE: it is important that both cups hang an equal distance away from the center of the clothes hanger.

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Step 4

Experiment! Fill ONE cup with a few weights you have collected.

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Step 5

Observe! Notice: what is happening to the to the scale with weight in only one side?

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Step 6

Predict! Use your scale to compare common household items. Don’t forget to make a prediction about what the scale will do.

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Step 7

Draw conclusions! After comparing multiple results talk with a family member about how a scale works and what happens when one side is heavier than the other or when the scale is out of balance.

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Extension Opportunities 

To help make this activity even more empowering for older learners there are a few things you can do.  Once you have created your scale have your child write out a prediction or draw a picture of what they think is going to happen.  By getting in the habit of making predictions we encourage our children to think like scientists and engineers and for them to engage more fully in the world around them.

Create challenges for your kids by putting a heavy object in one end of the scale and having them count how many weights it takes to bring the scale back to balance.