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Elementary Science

Simple Machines

Author Post
Christina Miljevic Christina Miljevic 575 Points

Hi! I am currently a student working on my Science and Math Methods courses. This semester, I taught my third graders about simple machines. What are some ways you taught your students about simple machines?

Brenda Velasco Mizenko Brenda Velasco 2695 Points

Hello, I see you posted this a while ago and no one responded. I've taught both 3rd and 4th grade and have done several activities. A big one was something called Invention Convention where students had to create a new device using resources from simple machines. I also had my 3rd graders create little cars made out of straws, lifesavers, tape, and card stock. We talked about the wheel and axle and how they worked together. Anything interactive is necessary with simple machines. This year I'm going to have them create mini dog sleds.

Christine Walsh Christine Walsh 2545 Points

Thanks. This is a great idea. Enjoy your summer.

Susan Kareken Susan Kareken 40 Points

How are you going to have them make dog sleds? This is a great idea--and what is your background info? Do you read them a book?

Lauren Switzer Lauren Switzer 425 Points

I love the idea of having students create cars (and dog sleds). What a fun hands on activity! I teach 3rd grade Math and Science. To help reinforce the use of simple machines, my team and I use an app called Crazy Machines 2 (There are other versions, but we found this one was more user friendly). It only costs $1.99 so it's not too expensive to download to a class set of iPads. Our students get to use planks, inclined planes, screws, and pulleys to help solve and create chain reaction puzzles. This is one of my favorite lessons to teach. In second grade, they learn what simple machines are, but this activity forces them to discover how they work. I'm always impressed by the vocabulary and discussions I hear when I'm walking around as students are creating their puzzles. I strongly recommend this app. If you only have access to one iPad, it would be a great small group center. I am attaching a picture of one of my students simple machine puzzles they created. Each puzzle has a goal. The goal of this puzzle is to use billiard ball to knock a bowling ball into a basketball hoop. That then turns a wheel to release a jack in the box.


Sarah Benton Feitlinger Sarah Benton 1775 Points

Building Rube Goldberg inspired machines can be a great way to tie in your study of simple machines with an engineering challenge. I've done this with 3rd graders many times and it is quite successful. The key is limiting the number of steps in their machine so that you can finish it in a reasonable time frame! Here is a blog post I wrote with some other helpful Rube Goldberg and simple machine links: Have fun!

Brenda Velasco Mizenko Brenda Velasco 2695 Points

I do a mini unit on the Iditarod. We follow the mushers throughout the race. I do read them Stone Fox and also a book about recent Iditarod champions. The sleds we'll make out of craft sticks and other art supplies. If I had a bigger budget I'd give them bigger pieces of wood. But the craft sticks should work with glue guns. (and parent helpers of course!) Living in South Dakota we have snow in the winter time so we could race them outside in the playground.

Susan Kareken Susan Kareken 40 Points

thanks—do you have plastic dogs to run them?

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