Busy with Bugs | Butterfly Balancing Act

Did you know that all butterflies are perfectly symmetrical?  Unlike some humans (like yours truly, whose ears aren’t quite aligned), the two halves of a butterfly – including their wing patterns – are exactly the same.

I thought a fun way to introduce the concept of symmetry to my kids was by creating these super cool Balancing Butterflies.  These butterflies rely on symmetry (in the shape and placement of the weights, not in the wing pattern), to balance.  It does seem almost like a magic trick when you make it work!

What you need:

  • 1 sheet of white paper
  • paper board (like a cereal box or cracker box)
  • tape
  • 2 pennies (or other coin – just have to be the same)
  • markers / colored pencils / crayons for decorating
  • scissors
  • chopstick & playdough or modeling clay (optional) — for balancing; you can also use a pencil w/ an eraser

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First, fold the white paper in half and trace the body of half a butterfly (with the fold of the paper marking the middle of the body.)  Note: this white paper isn’t your final butterfly – you just use it to get a perfectly symmetrical butterfly (using the folding technique), which you’ll then trace in the next step on the paperboard…

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Get your kid-helper to cut out the butterfly, then trace the butterfly onto the paperboard and cut it out.

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Decorate your butterfly with whatever materials you’d like!  You can talk about how in nature, their wing patterns match… but that it’s not necessary for this project.

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Tape your pennies onto each corner of the wings.  You may need to adjust the placement a bit to get the balance correct.

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Place your chopstick (or whatever you’re using) into a piece of playdough or modeling clay (to hold it up)…

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…and then carefully place the butterfly onto the stick.  You’ll need to move the butterfly around a bit to find the balance point – which will be between the two pennies and just a bit behind them.  I know it will seem impossible, and then – voila! – it will start balancing!

 

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Now you’ve pulled off the perfect butterfly balancing act!

 

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