Love is a balance! Armed with conversation hearts, mini marshmallows, Snap Cubes, water, and an inquisitive four year-old, we set out this Valentine’s Day to explore all the mathematical concepts the Learning Resources Primary Bucket Balance has to offer.

Right out of the box, our little scientist instinctively began to fill the buckets on either side of the balance with the candy. But before we started our challenges, we first had to go over the most important element of the balance: the arrow!

The arrow in the middle is crucial for understanding any of the upcoming challenges. When this arrow is pointed directly to its middle, the scale is in equilibrium. In kid terms, please? Make sure the arrow points to the other arrow for balance!

## CHALLENGE #1 – Are all marshmallows created even?

Skills used:

• Sorting
• Counting
• Estimation

Our little scientist decided to start with marshmallows. She counted out five for each bucket and checked the arrow.

Much to her surprise, five marshmallows on each side did not equilibrium make. Adding just one more made the arrows in the middle meet up. Balance!

Challenge #1 Scientific Finding: Even though the marshmallows look the same, they are all not the same weight.

## CHALLENGE #2 – Which candy weighs more?

Skills Used:

• Estimation
• Counting

Next, we wanted to explore which Valentines candy would weight more – the marshmallows or the conversation hearts? The guess was for the seemingly heavier conversation hearts.

Five of each were counted out and placed in the buckets. An “arrow check” produced the result: the marshmallow hearts were surprisingly more!

Challenge #2 Scientific Findings: Do not decide what weighs more based on looks alone!

## CHALLENGE #3 – Does the color of the candy make a difference?

Skills used:

• Color sorting
• Estimation

Our little scientist seems to think the color of the conversation hearts will make a difference in their weight. There was only one way to find out!

She decided that the purple hearts would be the heaviest, and the yellow the lightest. She counted out five of each.

Challenge #3 Scientific Findings: The color of the conversation hearts did not make a difference. (Also – unproven – purple was more delicious than yellow).

## CHALLENGE #4 – What is heavier? Water or Candy?

Skills used:

• Volume concepts
• Estimation
• Patience

Here, we wanted to test which form of matter would be heavier. Would the water take up as much space as the candy within the bucket? How much would we have to add to achieve balance?

Challenge #4 Scientific Findings: Not as much liquid was needed as originally thought. It was observed that this was the first time our little scientist understood the “little by little “concept. Adding too much too fast would make the balance tip too far. To achieve balance, this experiment took time and patience.

## CHALLENGE #5 – Snap Cubes vs. candy? How many does it take of each to balance?

Skills used:

• Counting
• Estimation

Here, a handful of Snap Cubes were thrown in one side, and a handful of marshmallow thrown in the other. We wanted to see if we could make them even on sight alone.

After we checked our arrow, we counted the contents of each bucket.
Snap Cubes – 29
Marshmallows – 25

We estimated again with the Snap Cubes, this time versus the conversation hearts
Snap Cubes – 27
Conversation hearts – 38

Challenge #5 Scientific Findings: Our scientist though the plastic Snap Cubes would be the clear winner for more weight because they were so much bigger. We found that more Snap Cubes were needed than marshmallows, but less were needed when up against the conversation hearts.