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Level: Intermediate Grades 5-6

Topic: Science: Simple Machines and the 3-4-5 Rule of right triangles

Objectives: Students participating in this project will investigate simple machines and their usefulness in everyday life.

Materials: 5 large Washers taped together, ruler or yardstick, pencil

Before the Fair

Simple Machines

1) Discuss the six different simple machines and the impact they have on our everyday life (see student handouts).

2) Teacher will ask for examples of tools / utensils that represent the different simple machines and display these on a board.

3) The students will write down as many simple machines that they used during that day and compare their list with the class.

Exploring Work with Levels

1) Complete the following activity: What happens when distance is changed between the fulcrum and the effort force.

  1. Place washers on top of ruler at the 1 cm mark.
    2. Place the pencil under the ruler at the 10 cm.
    3. Push down on the 30 cm mark (effort force).
    4. Move pencil to 15 cm mark and again push down at 30 cm mark (effort force).
    5. Compare your effort force in steps 3 & 4.
    6. Move pencil to 20 cm mark and again push down (effort force).
    7. What class lever is this?

Right Angles

Builders need square corners. We say a corner is square when the angle is 90* or a right angle. The ancient Egyptians knew they could get square corners when they were building by using the 3-4-5 rule of right triangles. This rule is known as the Pythagorean theorem.

1) Introduce the 3-4-5 rule of right triangles a2 + b2 = c2

2) Draw examples of the rule on the board making sure that the students realize that at least 1 right angle is needed or use this link which illustrates the 3-4-5 rule. http://content.answers.com/main/content/img/ahd4/A4pythag.jpg(image can be saved).

At the Fair

1) Using a pre-made list with the headings; Pulley, Screw, Lever, Inclined Plane, wedge, and wheel and axle, the students will write down at least 5 examples for each simple machine.

2) At least three examples from their list above should come from the KC3 Kansas Construction Learning Center exhibit.

3) Use the 3-4-5 rule of right triangles to determine the length of the third distance in the designated area of the KC3 Kansas Construction LearningCenter exhibit.

4) Class project.

After the Fair

1) Allow time for the students to discuss what simple machines they came across while at the fair.

2) Facilitate a discussion or have students write to respond to the question, “How different would your life be without simple machines”.


Simple Machines make work easier. A person can push or pull more easily when using a simple machine.

Have You Seen These Six Simple Machines?

  1. Pulley: A pulley uses grooved wheels and a rope to raise, lower or move a load.
  2. Lever: A lever is a stiff bar that rests on a support called a fulcrum which lifts or moves a load.
  3. Wedge: A wedge is a solid object with at least one slanting side ending in a sharp edge which pushes or cuts material apart.
  4. Wheel and Axle: A wheel with a rod, called an axle, through its center lifts or moves loads.
  5. Inclined Plane: An inclined plane is a slanting surface connecting a lower level to a higher level.
  6. Screw: A screw is an inclined plane wrapped around a pole which holds things together or lifts materials.

Six Simple Machines

PulleyWedgeWheel and Axle
LeverScrewInclined Plane


Name of Simple Machnie

Other Examples of this Machine

Windmill, roller skates

Jar lid, swivel piano stool

Axe, chisel

Crane, window blinds

Ladder, parking ramp

Bottle cap opener, teeter-totter

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