With so many schools closed right now, activities that keep kids busy and learning have become very popular.
Some of the most popular ideas are stem activities for kids.
This balancing craft stick toy is fun to make and allows kids a chance to learn about the center of gravity.
Craft sticks are an inexpensive material to keep on hand for some fabulous kids engineering activities. That’s why they are one of our favorite STEM supplies to have at home.
Kids have fun building with them, making towers, boxes, and other creations.
You may also want to try a few structured STEM activities with craft sticks, like making a craft stick catapult or this rubber band shooter.
This activity is a fun twist to the classic craft stick balance STEM challenge.
Balancing Craft Stick Toy
- Jumbo Craft Stick
- Pipe Cleaner (Chenille Stick)
- 2 Clipping Clothespins
- Permanent Markers
Start by having your child decorate the craft stick with markers.
Color the bottom 1/3 of the stick a solid color for the pants. The pipe cleaner will become the character’s legs, so there is no need to draw those on.
Then draw on a shirt and face.
For the shirt you can draw on arms, this is the easiest version. Or, use a small piece of pipe cleaner to make arms later.
Draw a face. If wanted you can even glue on tiny googly eyes.
Once the craft stick is decorated, it’s time to turn it into a balancing person toy.
First, have your child try to balance their craft stick on its end. Of course, it won’t work.
You need to lower its center of gravity first.
You can do this with your pipe cleaner and clothes pins.
Start by bending your pipe cleaner in half to find its center. Then open it back up.
Wrap the middle portion of the pipe cleaner around your craft stick, approximately 1 inch from the end of the craft stick. Twist it tightly so it stays on.
It’s important that you leave an even amount of pipe cleaner on both sides of the craft stick when you are finished. If needed, you can use scissors to trim off any extra that may happen on one side.
Once the pipe cleaner is attached, clip a clothespin to each end.
Now try to balance your craft stick person.
Place its end on your finger tip, or someone else’s fingertip.
It may take you a few minutes to get the stick person to balance. You may have to slide the pipe cleaner closer to the end of the craft stick or bend the pipe cleaner legs some to get it to work.
For another fun STEM activity that can be played with, check out our flying dragon.
How Do Balancing Toys Work?
You are able to balance the craft stick on its end because you changed its center of gravity.
In simple terms, the center of gravity is the point where the weight of an object is even on all sides.
Originally the center of gravity is located in the middle of the craft stick.
Adding the long pipe cleaner legs and clothespins towards the bottom and letting them hang down lowers the stick’s center of gravity. This allows you to balance the stick on its end.
Extensions to the Balancing Craft Stick STEM Activity
Can you get this to work using different materials?
- Try substituting the craft stick with an unsharpened pencil. Can you get it to balance on its end?
- What happens if you replace the clothes pins with metal washers?
- Try this balancing stick man activity to further explore the center of gravity.
If your child loves STEM activities like this balancing craft stick toy, you may also enjoy some of my other posts.