Applied Science - Technology (1A)
Post Lab 

  • Exploring machines.
  • Investigating how simple machines are used in our society.


  • inclined plane
  • lever
  • pulley
  • screw
  • wedge
  • wheel
  • classroom

Students identify simple machines in their environment.


Although gears, wheels, pulleys, and other machines are simple in design, they were needed before humans could reason into higher levels of technology. The mechanics and physics of these simple devices were not realized when they were discovered, the machines just worked. In order to fulfill basic everyday needs, early humans sought ways to satisfy them. Thus using bone, wood, and stone they fashioned simple tools for digging, killing, and scraping. When early humans wanted to move items or get items they wanted, they would use reason to "invent' these devices.

The principles of simple machines have been used throughout the centuries from moving large blocks to build the Pyramids in Egypt to using tractors today. Young students sometimes are not aware of simple machines, even though they use them every day. Educators must make students aware of how simple machines are used in our lives.

  1. The following are questions to start class discussions on simple machines.
    What are simple machines? (Something that people have created to do work. The simplest machines range from crowbars to eggbeaters).
    Could we live without machines? (No. Something as simple as a cart requires wheels to move. Ask students how their clothes are cleaned, what do we use to cook food, and how do they get to school on rainy days. They should conclude that it would be very hard to live without machines).  
  2. Have students look around the classroom and identify simple machines. Make sure to include pencil sharpeners, carts, push pins, scissors and any other machine.
  3. Discuss with students that simple machines are all around us. Make sure the students understand how simple machines have been used in everyday life, from cavemen to modern humans.
  4. As a follow-up activity, students can find examples of simple machines in the classroom and in their homes. Some types of machines may be difficult to break down into one of the six types and this may lead to a good class discussion. Even if no "right" answer emerges, the students will realize that machines are all around them. Many simple looking items are going to be combinations of the basic types. Possible examples:
  1. Pulleys: Venetian blinds, cranes
  2. Levers: see-saws, electric switches, crowbars, oars, jacks, wheelbarrows, shovels, scissors, pliers, and nutcrackers (all are pairs of levers)
  3. Inclined planes: stairs, ramps and mountain roads
  4. Wedges: axe blades, chisels, wood splinters, blades of knives, scissors, nails, pins and needles
  5. Wheels and axles: doorknobs, anything with a crank and wheel
  6. Screws: vise, screws and jack screws
  7. Gears: egg beaters, clocks

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