Whether it’s the start of the school year or a fresh semester with a new group of students, it’s important to review science equipment use and safety before diving into experiments.
ExploreLearning Gizmos virtual simulations can help your classes learn, review, and practice with interactive lab equipment to enrich or replace in-person labs.
Measuring Mass with a Triple Beam Balance
triple beam balance measures the mass, or the amount of matter, in an object. From apples to paperclips, scientists calculate mass in grams (g), the basic unit of mass in the metric system.
A triple beam balance works on the principle of the lever. There is a
fulcrum, the pivot point of a lever, and a set of sliding weights, called riders, that slide on rider beams to balance an object. Before calculating the mass of an object, students must “zero” the balance by sliding all riders to the left, ensuring the pointer lines up with the zero mark. Once students set an object on the measurement tray, the pointer will rise. As the riders move farther to the right (away from the fulcrum), they exert a greater downward force on the beams (and upward force on the measurement tray).
A triple balance beam has three rider beams:
The front rider beam measures up to 10 grams in 1-gram increments
The middle rider beam measures up to 500 grams in 100-gram increments
The back rider beam measures up to 100 grams in 10-gram increments
To calculate the mass, students must slide the riders until the pointer aligns with the zero mark again. The mass of an object is equal to the sum of the masses indicated by the riders. For example, if the pointer lines up with the zero mark and the riders show values of 300 grams, 20 grams, and 8.10 grams, the object’s total mass would be 328.10 grams.
Using Online Labs to Introduce the Triple Beam Balance
Prepare students for triple beam balance work through an online simulation. With the
Triple Beam Balance Gizmo, students calculate the mass of various objects as they click, drag, move, and adjust a virtual triple beam balance.
After using the Gizmo, students will be prepared to use a real triple beam balance in the laboratory. This online simulation is also a great substitute for hands-on lab experience if your school cannot access triple beam balances.
Identify the parts of a triple beam balance
Understand that a triple beam balance is an example of a lever
Find the mass of objects using a triple beam balance
Each Gizmo includes a student exploration sheet, teacher guide, and vocabulary for easy lesson planning and implementation. All documents are fully customizable (Microsoft Word, Google Doc, and PDF versions) to fit your teaching needs. Assessment questions are included in each Gizmo, so you can quickly monitor and assess learning.
Introducing Other Lab Equipment
Looking for other Gizmos to help students learn about lab equipment? Explore these options!