Simple Machines

Last week our family experienced another STEM storytime at the Commerce Community Library.  This time we were learning about simple machines, I love how these evenings always tie in literature, hands on exploration, and a take home activity.  At first our librarian discussed what simple machines are, she defined them as “something that makes work easier.”   We learned there are 6 types of simple machines:  pulley, lever, wheel and axle, screw, wedge and inclined plane.  We spent the evening concentrating on 4 of them:  inclined plane, wheel and axle, lever, and pulley.

Here is a sampling of some of the great books available about simple machines:

books1books2books3

 

After reading about inclined planes, levers, wheel and axles and pulleys we were free to experiment and try out these simple machines.

Here are the directions for our experiments with inclined planes.

inclined plane directions

There was a basket with a sturdy handle, filled with books.  First the children tried to lift the basket, then they pulled it up the ramp.  The ramp was simply a board with blocks stacked under one end.

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The children agreed it was easier to pull the basket up the ramp than lift it.

Next they made the ramp more steep by adding more blocks under the end.

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Then they tried to pull it up the ramp that was more steep.

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There was also a sign showing where we might see inclined planes in daily life.

Inclined planes examples 

Next we experimented with wheels and axles.

wheel directions

This was such a simple idea and it worked very well.  The kids tried to push the heavy container, then we lined up dowels and set the container on top of them – it rolled great!

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Then we put the container on a big cart and talked about how the wheels on the cart were bigger than the dowels – the kids loved pushing the cart!

Here are examples of wheels and axles:

wheel examples

Our next experiment was with levers.

lever directions 

First the children put a large plastic dinosaur on one end of the board, and stacked bean bags on the opposite side.

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Then they tried out a tiny dinosaur

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Later we moved the board so the stack of blocks (fulcrum) was close to one end of the board.   We saw how it made it much harder to lift the dinosaurs.

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Here are examples of levers:

levers examples

Our final machine was a pulley.

pulley directions 

The pulley we used was a simple wheel attached to a wire coat hanger, hung from the hinge of a door.

IMG_4743 

The children filled the  pumpkin buckets with different materials and experimented with lifting them using the pulley.  The hangers were taped to the door hinge so it wouldn’t come off with the force of pulling.

IMG_4744

 

 

 

 

My son, the engineer, told me that a pulley system really doesn’t make it easier to lift weight unless there are at least 2 pulleys.  But I noticed that the children could lift the weight much higher using this one pulley than they could have lifted it without the pulley and rope.

Here are examples of pulleys:

pulley examples

Warning!  If you take an engineer with you (like my son), be prepared to hear the intricacies of how these systems are really supposed to work.   These activities did a great job demonstrating how simple machines are used to make work easier!  It was another fun evening at the library!

The children were given this take home activity.   These pictures would be great for sorting, or you could even make a Go Fish type of game by trying to collect a set of pictures of levers, or a set of pulleys, etc.

Inclined Planes

Wheel and Axle

Levers

Pulleys

Now it’s fun for me to point out examples of these simple machines to my grandchildren when we are out and about!  If I were still in a classroom I would try to take some photographs of things around school that use show these simple machines in action!

 

 

 

11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. ramanibrain91
    Mar 04, 2014 @ 01:40:19

    Thanks for the info! loved the examples. used to think physics was boring but this is so interesting! See more learn physics for kids, visit: http://mocomi.com/pulley/

    Ram

    Reply

  2. Trackback: Family: Simple Machines | never shushed
  3. Mary Rose Sinampaga
    Nov 04, 2014 @ 08:33:25

    thanks its really helpful for my teaching

    Reply

  4. Chandrani Gallage
    Mar 16, 2015 @ 01:46:44

    My kid is in year 5. I was looking for some extra notes to help him with ‘simple machines’. This site was extremely helpful. Easy to understand as it comes with pictures. Thanks so much.

    Reply

  5. Muskan Nandkeuliar
    Nov 12, 2015 @ 01:54:06

    My kid is in year 5. I was looking for some extra notes to help him with ‘simple machines’. This site was extremely helpful. Easy to understand as it comes with pictures. Thanks so much.

    Reply

  6. Muskan Nandkeuliar
    Nov 12, 2015 @ 01:55:55

    My kid is in year 5. I was looking for some extra notes to help him with ‘simple machines’. This site was extremely helpful. Easy to understand as it comes with pictures. I love this site and thanks

    Reply

  7. Muskan Nandkeuliar
    Nov 12, 2015 @ 01:56:54

    My kid is in year 9. I was looking for some extra notes to help him with ‘simple machines’. Easy to understand as it comes with pictures. Thanks.

    Reply

  8. sehrish
    Jan 14, 2016 @ 23:13:33

    good notes for me igot much knowledge from this notes

    Reply

  9. Trackback: Super Simple Machines: Levers - Lets Go Kids Adventures
  10. Trackback: Need a Lift? Try a Pulley! - Lets Go Kids Adventures
  11. Trackback: Let's Get Rolling! - Lets Go Kids Adventures

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