We have a great activity in the lower level of our PowerPlay exhibit at the Children’s Museum of Houston called “Surf and Snow” that encourages everyone to hop onto some balance boards and see how long they can keep their balance! So, we decided to use it to explore balance in this O Wow Moments episode.

So, how do we keep our balance? Well, while our eyes play a major role in telling us our orientation, our ears also play a role! Specifically, three structures in each ear called the semicircular canals that act like accelerometers – they sense when our head changes motion. This information is processed by the brain which sends signals out to our muscles to cause us to shift our bodies to maintain our balance.

Of course, we can have a little fun with the semicircular canals as well by spinning around and around to get dizzy. That dizziness is caused by overstimulation of the canals because when you spin you are constantly accelerating! Give it a try (unless you are prone to motion sickness – we only want you to lose your balance, not…well, other things…).

Special thanks to our friends at Region’s Bank for making our O Wow Moments possible!