Team America 


Lizz Theobald

Cory Fronk

Caleb Hogland


Period 2 

Lizz Theobald, Cory Fronk, and Caleb Hogland's web page for our simple machine. 

The purpose of our experiment is to design and build a device that uses a series of simple machines to turn on a light bulb.

            Our apparatus is composed of a pendulum that hits a marble. The marble then rolls down a track and into a pulley that brings the marble to the lower level. At the lower level, the marble will go down a ramp and complete the circuit, which will turn on a light bulb. We will state all the different types of energy transformation in the next paragraph.

            Our project uses several different types of storage energy. The first energy type used is potential energy. Potential energy occurs when an object is raised off the ground. As it falls, it transforms into kinetic energy. This transformation occurs several times throughout our project. In a table below, we show all the different transformations of energy. Another form of energy used in our project is chemical energy, which is found in the batteries. Since it is an added energy, it will not equal the potential and kinetic energy. Thermal and light energy is also present in our project; it is released when the light is turned on. We could calculate the amount of each form of energy at every stage and easily see the conservation of energy.

Different steps in our project

Energy present in each step

The pendulum

Potential energy to Kinetic energy back to Potential energy (as the pendulum swings and hits the marble)

The pulley

Potential energy

The ramp

Kinetic energy

Completing the circuit

Kinetic energy, thermal energy, light energy

The batteries

Chemical energy

            During our project many variable had to be changed before we had the final product. Our first variable that changed was our pulley. We did not have a pulley, so we had to make one with a simple wood dowel and string. Our second variable we changed was the type of marble. Regular marbles were not heavy enough to activate the switch, so we used a magnetic marble and placed a magnet behind the switch. Our last variable we needed to hold our project together. At first, we used duct tape to hold our project in place, but later we replaced the duct tape with screws.

            First, the pendulum hit the marble and the marble rolls down a track into a basket. The basket goes down a pulley and on a ramp. The marble then rolls down the ramp and hits the switch that completes the circuit and turns on the light bulb. The first problem we encountered was the pendulum not hitting the marble, or not hitting it hard enough. The second problem we encounter was the basket not hitting the ramp at the right angle. If the basket did not hit the ramp at the correct angle, the marble would roll off the whole board. Our project was mostly reliable if done correctly and set up correctly beforehand. One minor detail in the pulley could mess up the result. Over time, the string on our pulley may break because of the friction.

            One challenge we faced while making our project was making it small and convenient yet still fulfills all the requirements. Another problem we faced was making the pulley work every single time. We succeeded in making the project small and convenient and it did fulfill all the requirements. Our pulley created a problem when we demonstrated in front of the class, but in the end, our project did complete the circuit and turn on the light bulb. The only change we would want to make to our project is to get a real pulley that would be completely reliable. We liked building the project and putting physics into action.