DIY Outdoor Balance Scale

Understanding how to balance counterweights is an important skill to teach children at a young age – one way to do so is with a balance scale. 

DIY Outdoor Balance Scale

With the help of a balance scale, you can provide your kid with a solid understanding of physics in one afternoon. 

The best part? All you need are a few common household items. 

With this in mind, this article will provide you with everything you need to know about making your own outdoor balance scale at home.

What Are Balance Scales?

When thinking of balance scales, the first thing that comes to mind is those antique, old-timey arm balances. You know, the ones that have two plates sitting on each beam and require weights – like a small seesaw! 

However, balance scales have come a long way since those days – no longer do you have to worry about unwieldy or cumbersome tools. 

In fact, the modern balance scale is portable and can be used outdoors – it is a natural preschool playground. 

Here, it can be used as a wonderful piece of equipment to teach children about math and science (see also: Saturday Science: Air Pressure)concepts. 

With the help of double buckets on each side of the Balance Scale, children can place loose objects into each bucket and manipulate the weight – observing while one side lowers and the other side raises. 

In addition, children can add different items to each bucket to compare the weight of different objects when placed together. 

Since it is portable, you can easily transport the equipment to whatever location is most suitable for your children. 

For instance, you could place the balance scales next to the sandbox to compare the different weights of sand. 

Likewise, you could even move it to the gardening area, to compare the different weights of vegetables, or even to an area featuring gravel to compare the weight of rocks.

Below, you’ll find out how to make your own outdoor balance scale at home. 

How To Make A Balance Scale

1. Making Buckets For The Scale

  • Using a hole puncher, you’ll want to make 2 small holes in either side of 2 small paper cups. Make sure these are on opposite sides and close to the rim.
    • If you don’t have paper cups, you can use paper cups, too. 
  • Next, cut two pieces of twine – around 1 foot (0.30m) long. Here, any type of twine will work, however, strong and thick twine will make it more durable. 
  • Once you have cut the twine, ensure they are the same length. If not, you can take some scissors to adjust the length. 
  • Then, tie the twine through the holes of the cups – using one piece of twine per cup. 
  • Once you’re finished, you should be left with twine pieces that resemble twin handles – as if they are little buckets. 

2. Assemble The Scales

  • For this step, you’ll want to find a notched clothes hanger. A wooden, plastic, or metal one will work – as long as there are two notches on each side. Otherwise, your buckets won’t be able to stay in place and will slip right off.
    • If you don’t have a notched clothes hanger, then don’t worry, you can use twine to connect the handles to the clothes hanger. 
  • Use the to hand the buckets from the clothes hanger. Using the two notches on the clothes hanger, hand the cups on the two opposite sides. 
  • Once you’re down, lift it in the air to examine the buckets – making sure that they are both level. If one is higher or lower then you’ll want to adjust the twine handles. 
  • After you have done this, you can allow your children to decorate their buckets however they please. Whether they are using crayons, stickers, or markers. Thanks to the added personalization, they’ll enjoy using the scales even more.
    • One way your kids can personalize their buckets is by adding their names to them. This way, you can make multiple balance scales without your children confusing whose is whose. 
    • You’ll want to avoid adding anything too heavy to the buckets since this can interfere with how the scales operate. Therefore, keeping the decorations to a minimum or sticking to pens and paints is ideal. 

3. Using Your New Balance Scale

  • Once finished, you can hang your balance scales on a doorknob. These are great places to place your balance scales since they are low enough for your children to reach them.
    • If you can’t find a suitable doorknob then you can opt for any other low handle or a hook to attach your balance scales. Alternatively, when you’re outside, you can attach it to a low-hanging branch. 
  • Assist your children in finding different objects to put into their scales. Here, anything will work as long as they are small enough to fit inside the buckets. 
  • Some fun objects include: small toys, different-shaped rocks you find outside, and small fruits, such as blueberries, strawberries, and grapes. 
  • Once you have gathered all your objects, you can allow your child to experiment with putting different objects into the buckets. 
  • When you place an object into one cup and it weighs more than the other cup, the heavier cup on the scale will lower. 
  • With this demonstration, you should explain to your children that the heavier cups contain heavier objects while the higher one contains lighter objects. 

Final Thoughts

Balance scales are useful pieces of equipment that can help your child learn the wonders of math and physics. 

Essentially, they work by putting different-sized objects on each side of the scale. The heavier objects will cause the scale to lower while the lighter object will be higher. 

Instead of purchasing a balance scale, you can turn it into a fun activity to make with your children with the help of this guide. 

Hopefully, this guide has informed you on how to make an outdoor balance scale. 

Suzy Anderson
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