University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Office for Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education
College of Education @ University of Illinois

Balance Beam Activity

The Concept:

Use basic equation principles with the virtual Balance to find the weights of various figures. You are presented with a number of shapes and one of their weights is known. Your goal is to find the weights of the other objects by finding the relationships between the objects of various weights. This is achieved with a simulation of a balance beam to tell you how the weights relate.


Put shapes on both sides of the Balance and observe which side is heavier. When you are confident in your knowledge of the weight of the shapes, write the values into the appropriate fields. When you have all the weights filled in, ask the computer to check your answer.


  • Check: Click the "Check" button to see if you guessed the weights right.
    • When running an "incremental" puzzle, if the answer is right, you are advanced to the next level.
  • Answer: See the answer. Displays the weights in the fields next to the shapes.
  • Clear: Takes all the shapes off the balance.
  • New: Generate a new problem.

The Purpose:

  • Placing virtual shapes on a virtual balance beam is presented here to allow students to learn basic equation-solving skills without the bounds presented by a physical balance beam.
  • The students are able to solve balance beam puzzles with random weight on every try. The weights vary between selected puzzle modes.
  • Gives 3 puzzle modes to test your skills on.

The Simulation:

Run the Balance in 4 different modes:

2 Shapes

3 Shapes

4 Shapes

Incremental: You start with 2 shapes and advance to 4 shapes


If you are having trouble loading the Applet, a possible solution is to update your Java Runtime Environment. To update your JRE, go to SUN's Java Webpage and follow the link to download Java software.

If you are having problems using the applet, please notify Pavel Safronov. Please specify the applet you are using, your web browser, operating system and the particular problem experienced. Please be as detailed as possible.

The Credits:

Applet designed and coded by Pavel Safronov. Please e-mail me with comments, error reports or complaints you have about the applet. You can download the source code in txt file. To run the source code, change the extension to .java


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