December 9, 2016

This week we introduced six types of simple machines—machines that make work easer: lever, inclined plane, pulley, wedge, wheel&axel and screw. Everyone had a great time in this hands-on workshop. At the lever station, students built first-, second- and third-class levers out of a ruler and a book and out of a wooden large plank, a small wooden fulcrum, and a jug of water as a weight. As an example of a first- and third-class levers, students used a real hammer (under adult supervision) to hammer nails and then pull them out of the plank. Students also played on a lever common to all children—a seesaw. To study a wedge, we showed nails, knife and fork as examples. At the inclined plane station, the same wooden plank and fulcrum were used to create an inclined plane and pull up the water jug across it up to the top. Another fun example of an inclined plane was a Vilac Ball Slide toy ‘Maison des Boules’.  At the next station, younger students played with a toy tool box with screws and bolts, and older ones used a real screwdriver and screws. They studied how closing and opening top of a jar uses the same principle. The pulley station had metal pulleys to play with, and kids played a game of pulling a rope described here.  Finally, at the wheel and axel station, children had a great time rolling on skateboards and scooters. Everyone’s work day got a little easier!

Vocabulary: Scientific process, simple machines, mechanical advantage, Archimedes, fulcrum

Learn more: Read “The Kids’ Book of Simple Machines: Cool Projects & Activities that Make Science Fun!” by Kelly Doudna

Science Fridays: Simple Machines