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Rex the Lion Balances on One Foot


Image: San Diego Zoo Global

At the entrance to the San Diego Zoo stands a 27-foot (8.25m) 10-ton bronze sculpture of Rex the Lion in mid-leap. The sculpture was designed with only one contact point to the ground, the lion’s front left paw. The other three paws do not contact the ground, which is most evident by the two dramatically flared hind legs.

How does Rex the Lion stand upright and not fall over? Rex uses some clever engineering to accomplish this posture. Before watching the video below to see how Rex stands upright, try to create your own Rex-like structure through a series of experiments on balanced forces.

Need experimentation inspiration? Create a “T” out of two wooden play blocks. Slide the top of the “T” over until the structure fails. How can you redesign the structure to keep it upright? What can you add to make the structure more stable?



YouTube: The Making of Rex, San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo: San Diego Zoo Unveils 27-foot Bronze Lion on Front Plaza

Times of San Diego: What an Entrance: Zoo’s 27-Foot Lion Statue, Largest of Its Kind

SD Union-Tribune: Rex the lion returns to San Diego Zoo — in bronze

Dezeen: Cantilevers


NGSS & Grade

3-PS2-1, PS2.A: Forces and Motion

K-2-ETS1-2, ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions

3-5-ETS1-3, ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution




3-5 ELM
Physical Science