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Home : 2008 : Feb : 9

    Oh how fun
    By Alicia G

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    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.

    View the original thread this idea was posted on



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