Loon Bodies in Balance

Loon bodies are streamlined for fast underwater swimming. This makes loons good hunters and divers. But this comes at a cost. A loon's legs are much farther back on its body than its center of mass, or where weight and balance come together. This activity helps studens understand "center of mass" as it relates to loon bodies.

Materials Needed

  • Modeling clay for each student


  1. Use most of your clay to form a loon-like body shape.
  2. Then form two balls to represent the legs. Stick these two balls in the middle of the body and try to balance your bird.
  3. When you've succeeded, move the balls of clay back a bit, and try to balance the bird again.
  4. Experiment and think. Does it help if you change how the body is oriented? Keep moving the clay back little by little, making any changes that help to balance the body each time.
  5. Make drawings and notes in your journal to explore the question: What things affect the center of mass?