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Center of a Shape Science

In this family STEM activity, students experiment with a simple technique that can help them determine the center of a shape. Grab some paperclips and string to explore!

Center of a Shape  Science / Family Science Activity

In this week's family science activity, students learn how to find the "middle" or "center" of a two-dimensional shape. It can be easy to locate the center of a symmetrical shape like a circle or a square, but finding the middle of an irregular shape can seem tricky. With a bit of science, kids can pinpoint the center of any shape. Students will get hands-on as they suspend shapes with paperclips and string and draw a straight line along the string. When they suspend the shape from a different spot on the perimeter and draw another straight line along the string, what will they notice about the two lines? Try suspending the shape from a different spot on the perimeter again and repeating the process. What do you see happening with the lines in the middle of your shape?

Creative Science

You can use any sturdy shape drawing for this project, but you will be poking holes around the edge and drawing on it, so you probably don't want to use a prized piece of art! While you can just mark your lines with a pencil, if you use colored pencils, markers, or pens to draw your lines, you will end up with something colorful in the end!

The following Science Buddies activity on the Scientific American website has all the information you need to do this science activity with your students at home: "X" Marks the Spot: Finding the Center of Mass.

Making Connections

Students interested in this week's family science activity may also enjoy the following hands-on science project ideas and experiments:

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