Wednesday, August 27, 2014

STEM: Homemade Spring Scale

After playing around with our Pulleys BLAST for the past few weeks and exploring how pulleys change force we were excited to try and make our own spring scale to further explore the concept of weight and force.  We found these great instructions on how to make your own spring scale.  Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean loved playing with the store bought one we have at home, and I knew they would love to construct their own even more. I especially love the activity because it supports all the STEM activities we love.  Another great part-we had all the supplies at home already!

The first few steps were easy for the girls to do on their own.  They simply taped the piece of straw to the very bottom of the paint stick, and then glued the piece of paper directly above it.

For the next part, I had to do some of the work.  I tied one end of the string to the rubber band which was cut in half.  The other end of the string was tied to the paper clip.  Then Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean worked together to clip the rubber band to to the top of the paint stick with the binder clip.  One girls held the rubber band in place while the other clipped it on.

Next, one side of the paper clip was straightened allowing to pass it through the straw.  This was easy for both girls which made them very proud.  A hook is formed on one side of the paper clip so it can hold on to objects. 

Next, we had to calibrate the spring scale.  This was surprisingly easy.  Prior to the girls helping, I tested a few objects around the house looking for objects that weighed one ounce.  We were in luck.  Fruit snacks weigh an ounce, and we have plenty of those.

I placed a little piece of masking tape on the rope and added a dot.  This is our pointer.  Next to it on the paper, I made a hash mark and labeled it 0.  One at a time, the girls added a pack of fruit snacks and made another hash mark where the pointer stopped.  We continued until we reached the bottom.  Then, I wrote numbers down the spring scale.  There was a lot of teamwork in this step!

Our spring scale is now finished!  The girls loved making something they can play with.  Especially now that they can be little scientists on their own.  You can see Jumping Bean measuring her cup and reading the spring scale.  This went on all morning! 

I especially love this STEM activity for many reasons.  With my guidance, the girls can construct the spring scale on their own or help each other.  It is also a great way to practice the number line.  We were also able to compare objects and predict if they were lighter or heavier than another.  Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean were surprised on many predictions.


  • paint stick
  • 2 pieces of string
  • binder clip
  • rubber band cut in half
  • cup or plastic bag to hold objects in
  • paper clip
  • straw segment- about 1 inch
  • masking tape
  • scotch tape
  • piece of paper 8 1/2 x 1
  • one ounce objects- package of fruit snacks, large pink eraser, large glass stones


  1. Tape the straw segment to the bottom of the paint stick.
  2. Glue the paper strip onto the paint stick, just above the straw segment
  3. Tie one end of a piece of string to the end of the rubber band.
  4. Tie the other end of the string to the paper clip.
  5. Attach the rubber band to the top of the paint stick with the binder clip so the knot from the string and rubber band is just above the paper strip.
  6. Straighten the paper clip so it will pass through the straw segment.
  7. Make a hook in the paper once passed through.
  8. Attach a plastic bag or cup to the hook. (If using a cup, attach a string to it as well.)
  9. Place a piece of masking tape under where the rubber band and string are tied together.  Make a mark on it for the pointer.
  10. Next to the pointer, make a hash mark on the paper and label it 0.
  11. One at a time, place a one ounce object in the cup or bag and label the paper with a hash mark and 1.  Continue adding objects and making hash marks until you reach the bottom of the paper.
  12. Have fun using your spring scale!

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