Simple Machines
Science Journey Session Three

Six Simple Machines

Inclined Plane



Wheel & Axle



See them all at these websites:

Scholastic - Dirtmeister

Science Learning from the Franklin Institute

Canada Science & Technolgy Museum Schoolzone

Complete Guide (MS) from Utah State Office of Education

Teacher's Grade School Guide & Quiz

Annotated List of Links

Good compilation at Infocrumb

Another one here

Workshop Presentation

Here's the PowerPoint file

Session 3 Agenda & Links

Pre-test (10 minutes!) 

Hands-on Simple Machine Stations

Investigate the Lever at PBS's Nova website . Click on Play Lever an Obelisk (requires Shockwave).

Complete Lever Loads activity. Materials: ruler, 5 pennies, and worksheet.

Go to Edheads and click on Simple Machines. Complete the activity

Whole class discussion of simple machines.  

Complex machines from Edheads at Try that Odd Machine out.

Group work: Construct a catapult. 

Go to The Inventors Tools Box . Review the different kinds of machines. Continue to the Gadget Anatomy web page and complete the activity there.

Do your own Gadget Anatomy

1) In small groups, examine your machine in detail. Take turns operating the machine while the others watch to see how each part moves. 

2) Discuss answers to the following questions:

What is the function of this machine? How many moving parts does it have? How are the moving parts connected to each other? What does each moving part do in the machine? Which parts are elements of machines?

3) Place the machine at rest so that everyone in the group can see it and distribute paper, pencils and erasers. Begin sketching diagrams of your machine. Draw the machine from your own point of view first. Later you can trade places and draw it from different points of view to show all working parts.

When the diagrams are completed, add arrows and written notes to indicate directions of motion for each part, label the elements of machines involved, and explain connections.

Choose a Design Challenge and brainstorm about how you might create a machine to accomplish the task.

If you have Java installed, try the virtual labs from the University of Utah. These are very good. More java applets for secondary students can be found online at

or Design a Rube Goldberg machine!

Check out online resouces appropriate for your grade level and tour the blog, and wiki, .