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All Lesson Plans

Building Balance Scale Puzzle

Objective and Overview

In this lesson, students create a balance scale puzzle for their classmates to solve. Students will use algebraic thinking as they maintain equality on the balance scale to both create their own puzzle and solve the puzzles created by their classmates.


Below are two examples of balance scale puzzles. One uses winter-themed pictures and the other is based on facts about a 7th-grade math teacher. Consider making one up about yourself to share with the class. Students will learn about you as they solve the puzzle.

Winter Balance Scale Puzzle – Polypad – Polypad
A Balance Scale Puzzle – Polypad – Polypad

The winter-themed puzzle uses the Question Builder tool on Polypad. This feature is only available on teacher accounts, so students won’t be able to add these to their puzzles.

Main Activity

Creating a Puzzle

Invite students to create their own balance scale puzzle. To add an image to the canvas, simply drag the file onto the canvas or click on the Upload Image on the bottom toolbar. The Using Polypad: Algebra tutorial page provides a detailed overview of the how to set values for images on the balance scale. Below are some of the most important ideas, but visit the tutorial page to learn more:

Assigning Values to Imported Images

Using Fractional Values

Below are some reminders you may want to share with students as they create their puzzles:

  • After assigning values to the images or objects, save the canvas to assign those values to the objects. Click here to learn more about saving Polypads.
  • Before finalizing their puzzle, encourage them to solve it on their own to ensure the puzzle can indeed be solved without simply guessing-and-checking.

Sharing a Puzzle

Once students are finished, they should save the final puzzle and then copy the Polypad link to share with their classmates. Click here to learn about copying a link to share. A number of options exist for sharing the copied link with classmates:

  • Create a spreadsheet or document that all members of your class can edit. Students can add their link and also click on links posted by other students.
  • Use Padlet, Wakelet, or a similar tool for students to post their links to share with classmates.
  • Create a Google Form in which students can enter the link. Share the link of the associated spreadsheet created by the form with students. As students enter the link in the form, the links will appear in the spreadsheet.

Students can now spend time learning about each other while developing their algebraic thinking!

General Balance Scale Overview