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Balance and force

A fine balance: Building a hanging sculpture

This unit is designed for 9-12 years old pupils.                                                             .

The lessons show that engineers work together with different professionals. In the introductory scenario  the class is confronted with an artist who needs help to build a hanging balanced sculpture in the entrance hall of their school. He has difficulties with obtaining a good balance and asks a mother of one of the children who is an engineerfor help. Artist and pupils together learn about balance and forces.

The lessons in this unit are:

The preparatory lesson is aimed at raising an awareness of how engineering contributes to our daily lives in ways that are not always obvious.

Lesson 1 introduces the engineering problem and its context, as well as the engineering design process. The pupils investigate the properties of a hanging sculpture and are confronted with the challenge of how to construct a balanced sculpture with multiple tiers.EDP-illustration

In lesson 2 the ‘ask’ element of the engineering process leads to an investigation of the physical phenomena of forces and balance. At various experimental stations the pupils study the properties of forces, obtaining a balance, centre of gravity and counterforces. In order to deepen and consolidate this knowledge, these terms are applied to the function of a crane.

In lesson 3, the engineering design process is applied to the challenge of this unit. The pupils’ task is to build a balanced, hanging sculpture. In groups of two they plan and build a hanging sculpture according to a motto of their choice. In this process the pupils are required to gather and collect all the attachments that they need.

The main focus of lesson 4 is to reflect on the development and construction of the hanging sculpture. At this time the pupils can confirm whether they fulfilled all given requirements when building their sculpture. They can also make and share improvements, as well as discuss problems that occurred whilst building the mobiles. The whole group can then suggest improvements. Finally, the completed mobiles are put on display and the pupils record the individual steps of the construction process in their notes.

 credits Deutsches Museum Eleni Wittbrodt


















> Click here to download the teacher guid : mechanical engineering & balance and forces

>Here are the trainings handbooks for facilitating an ENGINEER training for teachers

For further information, contact : Miriam Segoviano ,