Academy Curricular Exchange
Columbia Education Center 
Science


Robert L. "Bob" Campbell, Holiday Park Elementary, Phoenix, AZ

SIMPLE MACHINES

Appropriate for grades 4-8.

OVERVIEW:  The study of simple machines and how they work have
been a part of most science curriculum for many years.  Looking
into how they have improved our world and how these machines could
be creatively directed can be exciting for both the student and
the teacher.  These few activities help to direct the student
beyond the "simple machine vocabulary", extending the thinking
process while showing simple machines real usefulness.  This also
allows each student to become active and responsive to a product.

PURPOSE:  The purpose of this set of activities is to expand
students to the usefulness of the six basic simple machines,
allowing them to see how important they really are to today's
world.  An added bonus to this exercise is a divergent look at one
person's use of machinery through Rube Goldberg's drawings.

These activities extend the thinking process for students as they
are taken beyond the simple rote knowledge and comprehension
thinking processes to the more complex and many times energy
filled:  application, analysis, synthesis and evaluative
processes.  This approach will allow not only understanding of the
principles which employ simple machines, but also an extension of
knowledge towards their application and usefulness.

OBJECTIVES:    Students will be able to:

 1.  Define the six simple machines, knowing how each differ or
     are similar in their use.

 2.  Dissect a broken appliance or toy, listing all the parts
     found under the appropriate categories of simple machines.

 3.  Read and interpret Rube Goldberg's drawings and design some
     of their own.

 4.  Design and build a working model, using three or more of the
     simple machines studied.

ACTIVITIES:  The following activities are an example of the
different things which can be done by the students as a class and
in small groups.  This is just a few of the many things that can
be done to excite students about discovering the wonderful world
of simple machines.

 1.  Have each student bring in a small broken toy or broken
     appliance to disassemble,part by part.  Have some kids bring
     in screw drivers, pliers and a few hammers too!  Make a
     worksheet so the students can keep track of all the parts
     removed by placing tally marks under the appropriate category
     of the identified simple machine.  Sometimes it is necessary
     to determine how the part was used to know what section it
     should be counted under.  You will probably find a lot of
     screws and a few outside casings that do not fit the tally
     sheet.  Many thrift store will give you broken things at a
     very inexpensive price.  This would work best if done as
     partners.

 2.  Make a few copies of some of Rube Goldberg's drawings.  Use a
     couple to introduce his work to the students.  Next, take out
     the description on a couple of the drawings and have them
     work in groups trying to decipher what is supposed to be
     happening.  Finally, let each student create his/her own
     drawing, with the stipulation that it must perform a useful
     purpose.


 3.  After completing simple machine studies, Rube Goldberg's
     drawings, and the toy dissection, you can have each student
     create their own machine.  They would need to use at least
     three different types of simple machines and it must perform
     some type of purpose.  They can use a variety of small and
     medium size supplies, most of which and be found in garages
     of in the corners, closets and under beds of most boy's or
     girl's bedrooms.  Do not give too much time for this project,
     as you will find the sooner it is due, the more likely it
     will be turned in.

RESOURCES/MATERIALS NEEDED:  

     The Best of Rube Goldberg
      Keller, Charles
      Prentice-Hall, Inc.
      Englewood Cliff, N.J., 1979

     Vanguard Science Program
      Campbell, Robert L.
      Unpublished but willing to share!
      4417 N. 67th Ave.
      Phoenix, AZ 85033

TYING IT ALL TOGETHER:  This suggested approach extends the
student's learning process, giving him/her and opportunity to see
and use the knowledge gained in a very positive and fun-filled
final project.  These activities are great to share at an open
house, or a shopping mall, to build up positive interest in the
civic and business community.  If you add these activities to the
end of your study of simple machines, you will find that students
will remember the why's and how's much easier when it comes to
final exam time.
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John Kurilecjmk@ofcn.org

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