Using Simple Machines to Leverage Learning by: Sharon Dotger

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What would your students say if you told them they could lift you off the ground using a block and a board? Using a simple machine, they’ll find out they can, and they’ll learn about work, energy, and motion in the process! In addition, this integrated lesson gives students the opportunity to investigate variables while practicing measurement skills, using technology, and communicating their ideas. As with the other simple machines, studying levers provides students with an opportunity to apply their developing mathematical skills to problems with real-world application.

  • Elementary
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Reviews (3)
  • on Wed Jun 22, 2011 12:01 PM

This teacher describes a lesson that illustrates how a first class lever can do work. The activity is called “Lift the Teacher?” After learning about the three kinds of levers students learn about how levers can do work. They complete a KWEL chart (included in the article) and then use dual force meter probes to learn how moving the position of the fulcrum in a first class lever can change the effort force needed to lift an object. Students use technology and apply their science and math skills to solve a real life application.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Sun May 01, 2011 6:17 PM

This article-rated for Elementary teachers is also very applicable to Middle school teachers. It is well written and gives several activities to implement in the classroom. The activities are quick and easy to set-up. Both younger children and middle schoolers will enjoy the activities that are loaded with guided inquiry. The final assessment suggested is a written letter to the teacher telling how to change a tire on a car using a lever. A very clever way to assess the depth of the students knowledge-also a way to integrate the lesson into the language arts classroom.

Sue Garcia
Sue Garcia

  • on Mon Jan 17, 2011 1:54 PM

This article is great for Elementary teachers and a short concise review for Middle School teachers before they begin developing their own Units on Simple Machines. First-class levers, the most basic form of simple machines, forms the foundation for understanding Simple Machines. This article provides a "How a Lever Works" (an article within an article), complete with excellent diagrams and vocabulary development. Further more, the guided-inquiry style questions are easily testable by students. This article also suggests using a Venier force meter, but I found it is not really necessary to fully implement the concept development that this article is addressing. I recommend this article highly, if only to add or strengthen teacher content knowledge about Simple Machines, but the lever activity suggested is well worth the effort to use in both Elementary and Middle School.

Sue Garcia
Sue Garcia

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