February 12, 2020
How did you spend your Monday night? If it was spent playing with a broom (and not to sweep), then the title of this post needs no explanation. For others who managed to stay away from the latest internet challenge to hit social media, the idea was that on Monday, a broom could stand on its own on due to the Earth’s gravitational pull on equinox – which actually occurs in March and September.
Hopefully by now we have all learned to fact check because the internet can sometimes lie. 🙂 But we couldn’t resist throwing in our own Science At Home activity that also addresses the same science concept; Center of Mass. Once you master this, there is an endless list of party tricks that you can employ to entertain guests at your next gathering. (Forks on glass, spoon on nose, etc.)
What you will need:
- Wire hanger
- Metal washers
- Wire cutter
- Cut off a piece of the wire hanger. Any length will do.
- About a 1/4 into the cork lengthwise, insert the wire all the way through until the midpoint of the wire is in the center of the cork. Bend ends so washers can be added without falling off.
- Insert a toothpick on the opposite, perpendicular end and cut to any length. This will be your balancing point.
- Use metal washers as weights and find your object’s center of mass so you can balance it on one finger.
An object’s center of mass is the point where the mass distribution on either side is equal. This allows it to suspend on a seemingly precarious point. – Or in the broom’s case; on its bristles!
Extend the Activity:
Try to alter the length and position of the wire, toothpick, etc. How does this affect your object’s center of mass? Can it hold more or less weight? Can you balance the object on your elbow or shoe?