by Kyle Framsburger
A balance scale is a kind of weighing device that’s been in use for hundreds of years already. If it looks familiar, it’s the astrological symbol Libra, and it’s usually used in Wild West films for appraising gold dust. You may have also run into this device in your science laboratory classes back in school.
There’s no surprise to that, as using this instrument is one of the most accurate ways of weighing objects. There is a fulcrum point, from which extend two horizontal arms of equal lengths. At the end of each arm is a hanging holding pan or a pan on top of it, depending on the version. On one of the pans is where you put the item to be measured; on the other is where the standardized weights are placed. A reading is derived when the arms are balanced and level.
It’s important that you know the exact amount of standard weights you place on one pan. Such will tell you the weight of the object on the other pan. Because of this, it’s a great way to hone the mathematical skills of children. They need to add up the standard weights they place on the pan to derive the weight of the object being measured. The weights used may be expressed in grams, ounces, kilograms, pounds and others.
The mechanical construction of a balance scale isn’t at all that complicated. It involves only a few moving parts, so maintenance is quite easy. In addition, there’s no need for an external energy source, like a battery or electricity. The instrument can be readily used practically anytime and anywhere at all.
If you’re going to use or buy one, ask yourself: “what sort of items am I going to need to measure?” A small balance scale model is designed for measuring lightweight and tiny items. But a large model is designed for measuring bulkier items. It’s really important that the right scale model is used each time. This will enable you to get a more accurate reading, and at the same time prevent from damaging the weighing device.
When being used, make sure that you place the scale on a level tabletop or any surface. Standardized weights are expressed in a variety of units. See to it that you use those that belong to a common unit. Their values and units are usually written on engraved on their surface. Before writing down the reading, make sure that the arms are stable and level.
There are a few things you need to check prior to using this weighing device. The hanging holding pans or scale pans should be dust free, especially when the model is for weighing lightweight items. Regularly clean the fulcrum point and make sure that it’s free of rust. Also, before placing standardized weights or items on the pans, see to it that the horizontal beam is naturally balanced.
Nowadays, a digital balance scale is available. Some think it’s more convenient that its predecessor as there’s no need to use standardized weights. By simply putting the item to be weighed on the pan, a reading is instantly given by the instrument. But a downside is there’s a need for an external energy source – either a battery or electricity.