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published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
supported by the International Business Machines
This is a lesson plan that allows teachers to integrate the concepts of simple machines and work into the classroom. Students examine the different types of simple machines, their uses, and how to determine how much work is done using these simple machines. Appropriate for grades 5-8.

The lesson follows a module format that includes objectives and learner outcomes, problem sets, student guides, recommended reading, illustrated procedures, worksheets, and background information about the engineering connections. The lesson plan and student worksheets are available for download. This collection is part of TryEngineering.org, a website maintained by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
Editor's Note: We recommend this lesson to introduce younger kids to the concept of work as a physics term. It fully explores the idea that, to do work, forces must cause displacements. It will help prepare students to understand the work-energy theorem in subsequent physics courses. See Related Materials for additional high-quality resources on simple machines.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Work and Energy
= Simple Machines
= Work
Education Practices
- Active Learning
Other Sciences
- Engineering
- Middle School
- Elementary School
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Instructor Guide/Manual
= Laboratory
= Lesson/Lesson Plan
= Student Guide
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Lesson Plan
- Activity
- Laboratory
- New teachers
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Safety Warnings
Minimal Danger   No Safety Equipment Necessary  

Intended Users:
Access Rights:
Free access
© 2006 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Inclined Plane, Wheel and Axle, applied physics, engineering design, engineering lessons, levers, mechanical engineering, pulley, screws, wedge
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created July 23, 2012 by Zachary Davis
Record Updated:
July 25, 2012 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
December 4, 2010

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

3. The Nature of Technology

3B. Design and Systems
  • 3-5: 3B/E1. There is no perfect design. Designs that are best in one respect (safety or ease of use, for example) may be inferior in other ways (cost or appearance). Usually some features must be sacrificed to get others.

4. The Physical Setting

4F. Motion
  • 3-5: 4F/E1bc. The greater the force is, the greater the change in motion will be. The more massive an object is, the less effect a given force will have.
  • 6-8: 4F/M3a. An unbalanced force acting on an object changes its speed or direction of motion, or both.

11. Common Themes

11B. Models
  • 3-5: 11B/E4. Models are very useful for communicating ideas about objects, events, and processes. When using a model to communicate about something, it is important to keep in mind how it is different from the thing being modeled.

12. Habits of Mind

12D. Communication Skills
  • 3-5: 12D/E2. Make sketches or diagrams to aid in explaining procedures or ideas.
  • 3-5: 12D/E3. Use numerical data in describing and comparing objects and events.
  • 3-5: 12D/E7. Write a clear and accurate description of a real-world object or event.
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Record Link
AIP Format
(Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2006), WWW Document, (http://www.tryengineering.org/lesson_detail.php?lesson=22).
TryEngineering: Simple Machines (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2006), <http://www.tryengineering.org/lesson_detail.php?lesson=22>.
APA Format
TryEngineering: Simple Machines. (2010, December 4). Retrieved July 29, 2014, from Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers: http://www.tryengineering.org/lesson_detail.php?lesson=22
Chicago Format
International Business Machines. TryEngineering: Simple Machines. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, December 4, 2010. http://www.tryengineering.org/lesson_detail.php?lesson=22 (accessed 29 July 2014).
MLA Format
TryEngineering: Simple Machines. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2006. 4 Dec. 2010. International Business Machines. 29 July 2014 <http://www.tryengineering.org/lesson_detail.php?lesson=22>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {TryEngineering: Simple Machines}, Publisher = {Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers}, Volume = {2014}, Number = {29 July 2014}, Month = {December 4, 2010}, Year = {2006} }
Refer Export Format

%T TryEngineering: Simple Machines
%D December 4, 2010
%I Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
%U http://www.tryengineering.org/lesson_detail.php?lesson=22
%O application/pdf

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%D December 4, 2010
%T TryEngineering: Simple Machines
%I Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
%V 2014
%N 29 July 2014
%8 December 4, 2010
%9 application/pdf
%U http://www.tryengineering.org/lesson_detail.php?lesson=22

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Citation Source Information

The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

The APA Style presented is based on information from APA Style.org: Electronic References.

The Chicago Style presented is based on information from Examples of Chicago-Style Documentation.

The MLA Style presented is based on information from the MLA FAQ.

TryEngineering: Simple Machines:

Same topic as Canada Science and Technology Museum: Pulleys and Gears

Lesson for grades 3-5 on pulleys and gears that includes comprehensive background information on simple machines.

relation by Caroline Hall
Same topic as Edheads: Simple Machines

Interactive activity lets kids explores simple machines through Flash animations of common household objects. Game-like environment.

relation by Caroline Hall

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