Whether for a school project or just for amusement on a rainy afternoon, building a simple machine is a great activity to work on with your child. Not only is building something an excellent way to spend time together but doing so is also a wonderful opportunity for a straightforward engineering lesson. You can use the time to teach your child to recognize and understand the six types of simple machines: levers, wheels and axles, pulleys, inclined planes, wedges, and screws while having fun.
The Six Types of Simple Machines
A lever is a simple object that rotates around a fulcrum, such as a board or a beam. Intriguingly, the ancient Greek scientist Archimedes may have been the first to describe a lever in writing.
The concept behind the pulley was also written about by Archimedes. A pulley is a simple mechanism consisting of a grooved wheel with a cable, rope, or belt hung around it. The object to be lifted is attached to one end of the cable, and the other end is pulled to lift it.
A screw is a type of inclined plane that is normally used to hold objects together.
A wheel and axle is a simple device that consists of two wheels connected to the same axle. An example of a wheel and axle is the device that lifts water from a well.
An inclined plane has no moving parts, and chutes, ramps, slides, and blades are all examples of inclined planes.
A wedge is an inclined plane that is used for lifting, holding, or separating objects.
One fun, easy project involves building a seesaw out of lumber and two galvanized window wells. Lay one window well over the other and hold them down to the ground with spikes. Drill holes through both and tighten with bolts. Make the seat out of lumber and fasten two boards to its underside around the center. Place the seat over the galvanized window wells, with the upper part of the wells between the two boards. If you prefer, you can attach handles to the seesaw by bolting them through the bottom of each end of the seat. The handles can be made of wood, iron, or whatever will be safe and comfortable for your children.
More Information and Simple Machine Projects