How Does It Work?

Simple machines are everywhere! Many everyday objects use simple machines, such as wheels, inclined planes (wedges/ramps), levers, screws, gears, and pulleys. This month we are exploring how simple machines work. Here are a few activities you can do to support this skill at home:

  • Hunt for objects in your house that use simple machines, such as a toy with wheels, a light bulb screw, a light switch lever, a knife wedge, a screw-top jar and lid, a lever-tool like scissors or tongs, and a window blinds pulley. How do these objects help you complete certain tasks easier?

Make a homemade lever together. Place a ruler on top of a canned good laid on its side. A smaller lever can be made using a popsicle stick against a marker or pencil. Experiment with the lever. Place a cotton ball on the lower end. Then, use force to quickly press down on the high end. What happened? How far can you fling the cotton ball?