Butterfly Balancing Act

Did you know that all butterflies are perfectly symmetrical? Unlike humans, 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!

  1. Ages: 3 - 8

  2. <30 minutes

  3. A little messy

Step-by-step tutorial

  • Step 1

    Here's what we used to create our butterfly.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 1

  • Step 2

    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.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 2

  • Step 3

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

    Photo reference of how to complete step 3

  • Step 4

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

    Photo reference of how to complete step 4

  • Step 5

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

    Photo reference of how to complete step 5

  • Step 6

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

    Photo reference of how to complete step 6

  • Done!

    And then carefully place the butterfly onto the stick. You'll need to move the butterfly around a bit to find the balance point. I know it will seem impossible, and then--voila--it will start balancing! Now you've pulled off the perfect butterfly balancing act!

    Photo reference of how to complete step 7

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