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Simple Machines

Compiled By: Mrs. G

Stratagies that reinforce the concept of simple machines

Simple Machines
Posted by: Effie Kiosederis

Hi my name is Effie and I am a teacher in Toronto, Canada. I did a unit on simple machines in the first term. I set up a theme table that had buckets with different kinds of machines (levers, gears, wheele & axle, screw, inclined planes, complex machines etc.) and I let the students interact with them. I brought small items from home (i.e. egg beater, toy cars, used classroom items (i.e. stapler, ruler, scissors etc. For assignments they designed a pulley using a clothes hanger and spool, and thread. They also made small toy cards out of small boxes, dowel and wooden wheels. I used a video to introduce the theme, then I let the students play with the different type of levers and then we did the hands- on activities. I used 3 books I have on Simple Machines investigations, and I also have a good list of books I borrowed from the library. At the end of the unit I used a quiz to test their knowledge. For photos, I took pictures of the kids playing with the simple machines and making pulleys and cars (wheels and axles). I posted them outside of the classroom for everyone to see. Another good book to read to them is called MIKE MULLIGAN AND HIS STEAM SHOVEL and GIMOTO AND THE WIND. They are both older books but they fit in well with the unit.

Simple Machines
Posted by: June

Here's what I did when I taught the students about simple machines last year. I split the class into 6 groups (one for each simple machine, there a six simple machines). Each person in the group had a different job. One child was in charge of making (building) a working model or invention based on that simple machine (I called that child the Engineer). Another child (in the same group) was in charge of gathering as many obects (real) that are based on the simple machine (that child was the Prop Coordinator) and the other child was in charge of designing a large display board with pictures of that simple machine and facts (found on the Internet, in magazines, etc.). All work was done in school. After all their projects were finished, each group had to present their projects (display board, invention, and real samples) to the class. They were the teacher of the day. The class had to take notes, Hope this helped. DO you have any good ideas for teaching landforms or nutrition? Thanks, June

simple machines
Posted by: Tim

In our simple machines class, we looked at real life examples, then the children completed reports on simple machines in everyday life. I also added a writing assignment. It was in December last year when we covered simple machines and I had the students complete a story using the machines. The story was.... Christmas Eve and Santa was loading his sleigh, when it suddenly broke.. how did the elves repair the sleigh and load it with gifts using simple machines... A little out there but I teach both language arts and science..

simple machines
Posted by: cherie

One of the most engaging ideas I've ever tried involved making a device whereby children could experience very directly the reduction in effort associated with pulleys. I cut a simple seat from a piece of 2x6 (about 15" long) and drilled 1/2" holes in each of the four corners. I then made a trip to the hardware store and purchased about 25 feet of sturdy rope (like 1/2 inch polypropylene)and a several single pulleys (with hooks or holes to allow attaching them to your rope) that would work with that size rope.
Cut off 2 sections of rope about 6 feet long and thread one through each end of your seat, bring the rope ends together above the seat, and securely knot them together (allowing enough room for a child to sit comfortably below the knot) Then attach a single pulley to the top of this. I then took the children outside to the pullup bars and presented a "rescue" scenario to them (e.g. someone larger than you has fallen down an embankment while on a hike)and proposed that using some rope and pulleys, they would be able to haul the person up. Then I went through a demonstration with a child volunteer sitting on the seat, adding pulleys to the system one at a time (fixed pulleys hanging from the bar above, moveable pulleys atttached to the load (the seat holding the child) until another child could easily lift the seat off the ground (for safety purposes, I only allowed them to raise the seat a foot or so). What they really thought was cool was when the effort had been sufficiently reduced that they could actually lift themselves. Then you can go back to the classroom and go through the math involved.
This cost me about $25, but was well worth it, plus it is very reuseable from year to year. Before you take it to your class the first time, try it out with an adult at a local park to make sure your knots and rope are secure, and to familiarize yourself with the best way to add pulleys to the system. Hope it works! My kids loved it.

ideas on simple machines
Posted by: katy

One idea is to find pictures in magazines of things that contain one or more simple machine (i.e. a teeter totter for a lever). Put these pictures (which you may wish to laminate) in an envelope near or on the BB. Divide the board into six sections, and label each with the name of a simple machine. Students can look at the pictures and tack them to the appropriate section of the BB. I've done this as a file folder game, but it could be a good interactive BB for students who complete work early. Hope this helps!

Posted by: patt

We've done Macaroni machine inventions after studying simple machines.. Each child "invented a machine" that had one or more simple machine in it. They drew it then glued macoroni(all differnt shapes) onto the drawing. Mocels are imoprtant. It works they love it and it's tactile too

Some machines wre The homework machine, the bed maker etc.

Oh how fun
Posted by: Alicia G

Why not create a bulletin board, piece by piece and each time you study a new simple machine, add it on the board?

One thing I like to do is to bring in a huge basket of all the simple machines that I found in my kitchen. You can do this at the beginning of the unit as an intro, or at the end to see if they can identify the machine (as a lever, screw, etc.). Also, during the unit, you can have them look for simple machines during the school day (on the playground, in classrooms, etc.).

Oh, the kitchen tools I bring in often include:

My kitchen shears (two wedges connected into a lever)
My "cheater bar" which is a lever I use to open hard to open jars.
My cork screw which has a screw on it.
My egg beaters which have gears (not technically simple machines but they are a type of wheel and axle).
My knife (a wedge)
My spoon (used like a lever when held in my hand)
My bottle opener (the kind that pokes holes in a large juice can)
My nutcracker (a different kind of lever)
My trashcan (with the foot lever lid)

Other things that are fun to do is:

1. Get a ruler and something to set it on (like a lego or a block eraser or something like that) and try to balance one nickel on one end and a bunch of nickels (we got over 20) on the other end. You have to move the balancing point (fulcrum) to balance it.

2. Get a jug of water and tie it to a rope and have it go over a pipe, broomstick or other horizontal and strong "stick" and you have a pulley. Is it easier to lift? How about when you have two sticks (pipes, broomsticks) and you thread it around a few times. You have to pull more distance but less effort.

3. Similar to that one, get two broomsticks and tie the rope to one of them. Have a student hold this broomstick. Then, have another student hold another broom and make the rope go around that other stick, so it's a v-shape. Have a third student pull on the rope and see if the puller can pull the other two students together (who are resisting being pulled). The puller probably can't. BE CAREFUL as this needs lots of room and the kids have to work to not lose their balance. Now, wrap the rope around the broomstick a few more times so that it goes back and forth several times. Now the puller can easily bring the two students holding the broomsticks together. Point out that it's similar to how shoes are laced (how many kids have laced shoes these days though?).

Just some ideas off the top of my head. Our library has some fun projects and activities.

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field trip
Posted by: yowz

When we get near the end of simple machines, we take a field trip to the school kitchen and the school custodial office. I set up ahead of time with some of the workers to explain some of the tools they use at work and we look for simple machines they may use around our school or preparing food. That way the kids can see some simple machines that are used everyday.

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simple machines
Posted by: hazeleyesinnc

How about having them come up with a game like "Mouse Trap?" or having them do an art project with pictures of items that they can identify all the simple or compound machines. A book- like an abc book, but with simple machines and possibly compound machines would be another idea. Hope this was helpful.

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Simple machines stations
Posted by: Windy

I do a simple machines stations lab in which they try each of the simple machines.

Wheel and axle--slide a book across the table. Slide it again but with round pencils under it. Which is easier?

Pulley--I set up 2 pulleys, one a single and one a double to lift objects. One is easier. You could just set up a pulley on a piece of dowling between 2 chairs. The kids can see if it's easier to lift the object by hand, or does it seem easier with the pulley? I made 1 lb bean bags for this. Pulleys are not too expensive at the hardware store.

Lever--long stick with weight on the end and a block of wood for the fulcrum. Which way is easier to lift the weight, with the weight and fulcrum close together or far apart?

Screw--wrap a triangular piece of paper around a pencil to show the screw is just an inclined plane wrapped around a post.

Inclined plane--got a board and set it up like a ramp. Is it easier to slide the bean bags up the ramp, or lift them up?

Wedge--bin of sand. Which way is it easier to separate the sand, with a block of wood or a wedge?

I know this is a whopping lot of work to set up, but you could do just a couple of them to show how simple machines make work easier. The wheel and axle/lever/pulley are similar in that they all have turning points so you could choose one from that group, and another from the screw/inclined plane/wedge group as they are very similar.

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The Big Book
Posted by: benteach

Simple Machines was awesome to use with my class then they made their own simple machine page for each of the six. My class is quite artistic and I was able to keep three of the books for future display ----the books were also displayed in the front office.
For experiments I used the book Pictture Perfect Science with the book
Sheep in the Jeep.......we experimented with legos etc. to also try to model the drawings that the students came up with learn more about force...friction....ertia....etc.

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No title
Posted by: Mrs. O

Find a thick board (2 x 6 I think) you will also need a block of wood to balance the board. Challenge the children to find a way to lift you in the air using only the board and pivet. (They will have to move the board off center and stand you on the short end.)

I asked an auto salvage to donate a part of a transmission for the kids to take apart and see the gears.

We are starting our Simple Machines unit in January. I am challenging the kids to create an invention and identify the simple machines used to make them. Last year I had one of my girls create a double toothbrush to save time brushing the tops and bottoms of her teeth. I also had a toy crusher and a kool-aide mixing robot. We displayed them at the Science Fair.

I love the edheads site too. The kids have a lot of fun with the game.

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Simple Machines
Posted by: Jennifer in OK

Some of the things I do with this unit:

Tug of War (pulleys)

Milk Carton Cars (have kids save and more importantly rinse out milk cartons - cut them in half - decorate - get pipe cleaners and wooden wheels - have a race) - this demonstrates wheel and axle, inclined plane, wedge

Have students make a list of simple machines in their house. If this is tested by state or district, they often have to know examples in everyday routines.

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