Browse Lessons
Assign Lesson

Help Teaching subscribers can assign lessons to their students to review online!

Assign Lesson to Students

Share/Like This Page

The Art of Balancing

The Art of Balancing

This lesson aligns with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) PS2.C

The art of balancing is an interesting topic that deals with the ability of objects to maintain stability and not trip over. As a toddler, we learn how to balance our bodies. Balance refers to many objects, from the simplest objects such as pencils and books to complicate structured objects like buildings and bridges. Balance plays a dominant role to maintain the stability of these objects. When an object is balanced, we assume that it is in a state of equilibrium. In this article,we will learn the art of balancing and learn how to apply it to our daily lives.

What is the Art of Balancing?
Generally, we associate the word “balance” with stability. Balance can be defined as a point where a specific distribution comes to a standstill. In a balanced form, all elements are determined in such a way that no change is occurring in a body. The first thing that pops into our heads is the weight of the body. 
For instance, if anyone sees a scale with a hammer on one side and a feather on the other side, knows that the first one is heavier. But balancing something does not always require symmetry. If a scale tilted to the correct side, the balance would have been achieved. 

Role of Center of Mass
To understand the art of balancing, one must know the concept of the center of mass. The center of mass of an object is a point at which all the mass of the object is considered to be concentrated. In other words, if the object were suspended from a point, the object would perfectly balance at that point, this is known as a center of mass. The center of mass of a body depends on the distribution of mass, its shape, and its density. 
For instance, the center of mass for a thin, flat object lies at the halfway point, whereas for a complex object like a chair, the center of mass is located somewhere within the chair.

The Art of Balancing Examples
First, we consider the simple example of a pencil. When we hold a pencil in a vertical direction, it can balance on its tip only for a short period before toppling over. The reason is that the center of mass is located near its tip and any slight disturbance can cause the pencil to lose its balance. However, if we hold a pencil in a sloping direction, the center of mass would shift towards our hand, and the pencil is easily balanced.

Fig.2 when we hold a pencil in vertical direction the COM is located near its tip.

Now we observe the art of balancing complex objects such as the construction of buildings and bridges. The center of mass of a building or bridge plays a crucial role within the base of the structure to maintain its stability. Engineers use the principles of balance and stability to design the structures of buildings so that they can resist the force of nature and remain standing for years. This is achieved with the help of counterweights and supports to maintain the structure, and also ensure that it can withstand earthquakes and other natural disasters.

The art of balancing also plays an important role in sports like gymnastics. Athletes perform complex movements easily by using their bodies to maintain stability. The balance is achieved by shifting the center of mass within the body while maintaining control over their maneuvers.

Fig.3 Gymnasts keep their balance while shifting the COM within the body

In our daily lives, we practice the art of balancing in different ways. For instance, riding a bicycle, we use our body to maintain balance and control over the bike simultaneously. Similarly, when we carry a heavy load, we shift the center of mass of the load towards the center of mass of our body, by adjusting our body’s position. This helps us to carry heavy loads easily.

  • The art of balancing plays an important role to achieve stability.
  • Balance is an essential aspect whether it is the construction of buildings and bridges or performing the complex maneuvers of gymnastics.
  • To understand the art of balancing, it is important to develop an understanding of the principles of the center of mass of a body.
  • The center of mass is a point at which all the mass of the body is concentrated.

  1. Figure 1 
  2. Figure 2
  3. Figure 3

Related Worksheets:

Become a Help Teaching Pro subscriber to access premium lessons

Unlimited premium lessons Unlimited premium printables Unlimited online testing

Learn More About Benefits and Options