A physical balance scale can be a useful tool to help students understand the concept of balancing equations. However, some students may have misconceptions about the concept of balance even when using a physical model, focusing on the amount of weight only and ignoring the placement of the weight. Although most students at some point in their lives have been on a teeter-totter or seesaw, they rarely connect those playground objects with the mathematical principles involved in using a simple tool such as a lever.
Shirley M. Matteson, email@example.com, is an assistant professor of Middle Level Education at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. She is interested in students' understanding of algebraic representations and problem solving. She is also a National Board Certified Teacher in Early Adolescence and Mathematics.
Jennifer Wilhelm, firstname.lastname@example.org, is an associate professor in science/mathematics education at the University of Kentucky. Wilhelm's research interest involves the design of interdisciplinary, projectbased learning environments.