Balancing Bears

Working individually or in small groups, participants use recycled materials to design, build, and test a device to balance upright on an unbalanced platform and travel down a sloped tight rope.  The goal of this challenge is to build a device to hold an Ewok action figure as high up off the platform as possible and still travel safely down the tight rope without flipping over. Participants think and build like engineers as they experience the design process to make improvements to their devices through redesigning and retesting prototypes.



Engineering and Invention

age range



  • Tight-rope tracks

  • Balance carts

  • ½” metal nuts

  • Pipe cleaners (can reuse, but will wear out over time)

  • Wooden dowels

  • Plastic Sticks with holes

  • Pipette trays

  • Pipette trays with adhesive Velcro

  • Cups, Dixie or plastic (can reuse, but will wear out over time)

  • Binder clips

  • Bear (or other figures)

  • Example balancing demo to help think about weights, placement of weights (optional)

safety issues


or, indoor, balance, mechanical engineering, design challenge, physics, forces, center of mass, rigidity, flexibility, weight distribution; structures


Museum of Science, Boston