Exploring Weight

The sense of touch can provide different kinds of information. Normally, when thinking about the sense of touch, people think of texture. However, in addition to texture, the sense of touch can also provide information about weight. This is called the baric sense.

The Baric Tablets

The Baric Tablets consist of three sets of wooden tablets. One set is made up of pieces of a light weight wood . The second set contains pieces of a slightly heavier wood. The third set contains pieces made of a dense wood that is heavier than the wood in the two other sets. The child's challenge is to put on a blindfold and then balance contrasting tablets on the tips of the fingers to determine which piece is heavier or lighter. By only sensing the weights of the pieces of wood, the child attempts to sort the pieces into separate piles of light, medium and heavy wood. When the child is done, the child can take off the blindfold and look at the wood in each pile to see how accurately they were sorted. This is a very challenging task. Therefore, children often start with only the two most contrasting piles - the heavy and the light. In addition, at first they usually try the task without the blindfold. It's only after they think that they are getting pretty good that they up the challenge and try to sort all three sets with the blindfold.


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