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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