6 Simple Machine Projects For Middle School
I like to start simple machine classes by brainstorming classes for every example of a variety of simple machines they can think of. We are surrounded by simple machines! And just imagine. Wouldn't we have them? It's easy to see how they make the job easier. Before You Begin There are several educational subscription boxes for kids with monthly active STEM classes. We've rounded up the best of them for you to check out in our article.
A simple machine is a tool with few or no moving parts that makes the job easier. There are six types of simple machines: lever, tilt, wedge, screw, wheel axle and pulley.
I like to start simple machine classes by brainstorming classes for every example of a variety of simple machines they can think of. We are surrounded by simple machines! And just imagine. Wouldn't we have them? It's easy to see how they make the job easier.
Before You Begin There are several educational subscription boxes for kids with monthly active STEM classes. We've rounded up the best of them for you to check out in our article.
Now let's talk about a simple machine!
What Is Work?
This is different from the usual definition of "work" when talking about working in physics.
Work is defined as the amount of force (or effort) to move an object away. The equation is simple.
W = Fd
These simple mechanical designs show how machines can make the job easier. Think of all the previous examples! How difficult is it to take the elevator to the roof of the building? It would not have been possible on our own. But with a pulley it is possible and it makes the job easier.
Use this design idea as a creative (and tricky) demonstration of a simple machine! It can be done in groups or the teacher can use it as a demonstration for the whole class. It will also be a great home activity for future engineers who love to build!
6 Fun Simple Machine Projects
We’ve outlined here an example project for every type of simple machines:
- Wheel & Axle
The first project here is how to make your own pulley!
This project by Carrots are Orange is great! You can do more than build a pulley yourself. Turn this into a game and see how much the pulley can lift!
If you can build a racetrack, why make a slope? You can use a ball or a car in this project.
I love this simple design of the lever demo machine! You don't have to indicate which side is showing the burden and effort, but it's a great way to reinforce your class!
The simplest (and most common example) of a wedge is an axe. We don't want kids to play with axes, so we can show you how clay wedges work! Use triangular wedge blocks.
You can make miniature "logs" out of plastic. Have the children cut the plastic with the flat part of their hands. It doesn't work. Now cut into wedges and see what happens!
5. Demonstrating Screws
The best way to show how screws make the job easier is to use a simple piece of wood. Try pressing the nail by hand first. It doesn't work. Then we show you how to tighten the screws. This might be what you want to show off! However, older students can also study in passive mode under close supervision.
This is definitely my favorite! When you think of wheels and accelerators, the first thing that comes to mind is a car. Start with the
tube. You can do a lot by trying to push across the floor.
Now imagine you want to fill it with weights. It would have been much easier if there were wheels!
Use a straw or chopsticks as an accelerator. Plastic bottle caps make great wheels. You can decorate your car however you like! And don't limit yourself to a cardboard roll. Plastic bottles are great too. Let the kids design their own recycling car.
Also check out this blog post for more free resources and spreadsheets about simple machines! Along with these projects, you'll find free worksheets and PowerPoint presentations to help guide you through the class.