Topple Table

A large purple tray containing wooden building blocks, has a raised orange round platform in the centre of it.
A large purple tray containing wooden building blocks, has a raised orange round platform in the centre of it. At the back of the purple tray is a brown and white information panel.

Centre of mass creates stability within a structure.

How it works

Children under 6 years build with wooden blocks on a fixed or unstable tabletop and experiment with centre of mass.

Things to try or ask around the exhibit

  • Can you build the pictured structures, or your own structure on the wobbling table?
  • What did you notice about how the table wobbled and how much your structure wobbled?

Background

If you place most of the mass near the base of your structure it has a better chance of maintaining stability and not falling over. This is because placing mass close to the ground gives a structure a low centre of mass, which is more difficult to shift and fall.

Finding the science in your world

Tall buildings in earthquake zones need to be flexible so they can absorb motion energy and survive, but they also need to have stable foundations, with a lower centre of mass to maintain stability.