(BOSTON, MA) October 14, 2010, Balance isn’t just an act. From teetering toddlers to tightrope walkers, balance is something we all use in our everyday lives. Children and their families can expand their understanding of balance – and learn how to practice and improve it – in Balancing Act, a new children’s exhibit that will be open at Boston Children’s Museum through January 2, 2011.
The interactive exhibit, designed and developed by the Museum of Science and History, focuses on the physical nature of balance and the body systems that work together to achieve that balance. Through a variety of challenge activities, such as balance beams, bridges and balance boards, you can get into the act and test your sense of balance in a fun, playful environment.
Guiding you through Balancing Act is “Level,” a sculptural balancing buddy made from cubes and boxes. This level-headed character demonstrates how prevalent balance is in our everyday lives and how the body and brain work together to help us maintain that balance.
As you enter Balancing Act, you may first be drawn to the Balance Bridge. Try to keep from rocking as you navigate down the center of the bridge’s fabric straps. The more guests on the bridge at one time, the more movement you’ll experience! Then test your skills on a skateboard-sized “teeter totter” in the Balance Board Challenge. You’ll learn how our body systems work together to enable skateboarders, surfers and others to maintain and master balance.
The exhibit’s Balance Circus station shows how our body systems work together to achieve balance. Stare at a spinning disk for 20 seconds. Even though you’re on solid ground, you may start to feel as if you’re turning or spinning. This disorienting effect is a powerful illustration of how visual perception influences our sense of balance.
Other components, such as the Balance Beam, Stepping Stones and Wavy Beam, challenge you to adjust your body and control your center of gravity as you navigate the various obstacle courses.
Demonstrating balance-related concepts is just one goal of the 1,200-square-foot exhibit, according to Kit Goolsby, Vice President of Education at the Museum of Science and History. Balancing Act also aims to reinforce the idea that balance can be practiced and improved. Find out how long you can stay balanced on the shifting Balance Timer. Try it more than once and see if you can improve your time with practice. Experiment with balancing different fruits on the Balance Scale. See how high you can stack blocks on a shifting table top before it topples over on the Tippy Table. Then take some tops for a spin in Spinning Tops and discover the secrets behind twirling ballerinas and rotating ice skaters.
“For most of us, balance is something that happens almost subconsciously,” Goolsby said. “We sit, walk, run and play without thinking about it. Through this exhibit, we hope children and adults alike will gain greater confidence in their ability to improve their own balance.”
Balancing Act was created by the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History for the Youth Museum Exhibit Collaborative (YMEC), a consortium of eight leading youth museums. After its debut in Fort Worth, the exhibition is traveling to the other YMEC museums in North America: Boston, Houston, Quebec, Memphis, St. Paul, San Jose and Sausalito. The exhibit is presented in English and Spanish.