Distribution of Mass Exhibition by Hands On!

Distribution of Mass

Kids get science rolling in this exploration of speed, mass and inertia.

This experience features a pair of identical inclined trackways and two wheels, each with three radially adjustable weights in slots. Visitors release their wheels at the top of the inclined tracks to see which one will reach the bottom first and win the race. Visitors can redistribute the mass of each wheel by altering the position of the weights in the slots, thus changing the spinning speed of their wheels. A wheel with more mass near the axle will have less angular inertia and accelerate more quickly down the ramp than a wheel with its mass placed farther out.

Each weight can be positioned individually, allowing an asymmetrical distribution of mass around the wheel. This open-ended experimentation results in unusual patterns of acceleration and deceleration as the wheel makes its way down the incline. Repeated experimentation helps visitors make science connections through observable cause-and-effect results.


Interested in purchasing individual exhibits for your project? Please contact Charlie Shaw at
CW Shaw, Inc. at: (727) 528-0333 or cshaw@cwshaw.org