Circus Science: How to Balance Anything


Have thought about why it’s difficult to maintain your balance with a large backpack? Or why it’s challenging to prevent a child’s sippy cup from falling over? How do tightrope walkers perform their spectacular circus performances? You may want to learn how to help your car be less likely to tip over in sharp curves. In this game, you can test balance with toothpicks, skewers, and marshmallows. Explore this page to discover some yummy, sticky credit fun!


The weight of an object’s weight has everything to be attributed to what it does with its weight. For example, you could stand up at the edge of an obstacle while holding an enormous backpack in front of you. However, it’s a little more complicated when that backpack is high over your head. This is because your center of mass and the backpack shift in these situations.

In physics, the center of the mass of an object can be described as an area where the total weight of a thing could be represented as concentrated. The weighted average for the groups of particles comprises the thing. It’ll be in the middle of the object if its mass is evenly dispersed (such as using a hula hoop), but it will be moved to the heavier part of the object when the group isn’t uniformly distributed (such as cars). Sometimes, the center of mass may be an isolated point, not part of the object itself. For example, the group’s central point for a hula-hoop is in the middle of an empty.


* Toothpicks

* Large marshmallows

* Two bamboo or wood Skewers (use care when handling skewers that have sharp edges)

* Paper and a pencil or pencil


• On the skewer, put one of the marshmallows in the middle and one on each side. Put the tip of your fingers under the middle marshmallow, and then try to hold the structure using your finger. Do you have the ability to keep it in balance? Do you find it easy or challenging? If you cannot manage it, shift the middle marshmallow to the opposite side until you reach the proper location that allows you to stabilize the building using your fingers. We will refer to this area as the initial balance point.

* Insert a toothpick in the marshmallow at the end. Attach one marshmallow to the tip of each toothpick. Connect two marshmallows using another skewer, resulting in the shape of a rectangle (with two marshmallows at each corner and an in the middle of the skewer).


You can place your finger below the balance point of the new structure (with most of the design hung below it) and then try to balance it with your finger. Is it balanced? Is it more straightforward or more difficult than balancing the more basic design? If you cannot balance this rectangle, shift the middle marshmallow towards one or another until you can.

Draw the structure on a piece of paper. Then, try to balance the system using your finger on the balance point you initially placed. Is the design horizontally oriented, or is it tilted in one direction? Turn the piece of paper your drawing is on to ensure it’s at an identical angle to the actual structure. On the picture, note the location of your finger with the letter “X” and draw a vertical line that runs down from the”X.

Balance the structure by placing your fingers under each toothpick. Does the design hang completely vertically, or is it tilted? Turn the piece of paper your drawing is on to ensure it’s at an identical angle to the actual structure. Create a cross where your finger draws a line vertically from the point of the X.

Balance the structure by placing your finger on one of the corner marshmallows, the furthest from the middle marshmallow. Do you see the system hanging vertically, and is it even? Turn the piece of paper your drawing is on to ensure it is at an identical angle to the actual structure. Draw a cross where your finger is drawn and trace a horizontal line from the point of the X.

In your sketch, the area where the three lines intersect is the central mass of your structure. What is the main point of the group in your system? How does it relate to the middle marshmallow?

Reorient your structure so the middle is placed on the top. On the middle one, you can attach toothpicks to two additional marshmallows grouped close to the middle one. You can set your finger below the balance point that was previously used and attempt to make it balance. Are you able to manage it? Is it less or more complex than the balance of the prior structure?

Repeat the drawing steps that you completed before, determining the point where the three lines meet and finding out the location where the center of mass is. Based on your drawing, Where is the center of mass for the new design? What is its relationship to the middle marshmallow? If it is different, what has changed? What do you think the reason is?

Extra: Try building some other structures using toothpicks, marshmallows, and Skewers. What is the central point of mass in your other systems? You can modify the design by putting marshmallows in certain areas.

Extra: Find some non-symmetrical objects, like the toy truck, and observe how their mass distribution influences their stability. When you place your toy truck on the side of a hill, how does its mass distribution affect its balance?

Extra: As you did at the beginning of this game, Use a skewer to put an individual marshmallow in the center and one on each side. Utilize toothpicks to place marshmallows on the middle one, and then try to keep the structure balanced using your fingers each time you add a new marshmallow. How many marshmallows will you stack until you cannot manage the system? Create different designs and attempt stacking marshmallows until they’re not stable anymore. Can the other structures hold more marshmallows which suggests that their networks are more robust?

Results and observations

Did you observe the center of mass of the initial rectangular structure was right beneath the marshmallow in the middle? If you added two additional marshmallows on top of the middle one, Did you notice that the center of mass moved upwards?

A piece of equipment will have more stability if a line vertically from its center of mass runs through the point of balance. In this exercise, your balance point is the place you indicated with an X; the spot where your finger was, and the line you drew is precisely the one you traced. (The name of plumb lines can also refer to this horizontal line.) If you can determine exactly where these lines crossed, you can determine where the structure’s central mass was. You’ll have discovered an earlier rectangular model had a significant point of the group just below the middle marshmallow. At the same time, the second structure’s center of mass is higher in the middle. Two more marshmallows added over the middle would have increased your center of mass.

Furthermore, a thing is more stable when its mass center is lower than the balance point. However, it will be unstable when the mass’s center is higher than the point of balance. So, the initial structure you constructed (with only three marshmallows) should have been less stable than rectangular structures. And also, the original rectangular design would be more robust than the one made with two marshmallows.

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