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Simple Machines for Kids

Simple Machines

Simple machines are devices that can make a tough job easier by enabling a person to apply less force or to apply force in a direction that is easier to manipulate. There are six types of simple machines: lever, pulley, inclined plane, wedge, screw, and wheel and axle. Each machine affects the direction or the amount of effort needed to do work. Most mechanical machines, such as automobiles or power tools, are made up of hundreds of parts. However, no matter how complex a machine is, it is composed of some combination of these six simple machines.
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Simple Machines and Work
Grade: 4 - 12
An overview of simple machines and the science of mechanical advantage and work.

What are Simple Machines?
Grade: 4 - 12
Simple machines for kids : An introduction to the six simple machines - inclined plane, lever, screw, pulley, wedge, wheel and axle.

Simple Machines Explained
Grade: 4 - 12
The lesson explains the simple principles behind simple machines and shows how work becomes easier when the mechanical advantage of a simple machine increases the input force.

The Inclined Plane
Grade: 4 - 12
The lesson demonstrates how an inclined plane allows us to trade increased distance for decreased force.

The Lever
Grade: 4 - 12
The lesson demonstrates the principle of the lever - The longer the arm of the lever to which force is applied, the less that force need be.

Mechanical Advantage and Friction
Grade: 4 - 12
Learn about mechanical advantage - the factor by which a machine multiplies the force or torque applied to it. The lesson compares the mechanical advantage of an inclined plane with that of a lever.

The Screw and The Wheel
Grade: 4 - 12
The lesson explains the working of a screw and a wheel; a screw is simply a twisted inclined plane; a wheel is simply a circular lever, whose fulcrum has become an axle.

The Pulley
Grade: 4 - 12
The lesson explains how a pulley works to lift a heavy object. If we double the number of ropes supporting the weight, we double the mechanical advantage.

What is Work
Grade: 4 - 12
Understand the concept that Work = Force x Distance. In the video, a circus troupe helps present the physics definition of work.

Potential Energy
Grade: 4 - 12
Learn about potential energy - the energy of position. A rock teetering on the edge of a cliff is demonstrated to have potential energy.

Kinetic Energy
Grade: 4 - 12
Learn about kinetic energy, which is the energy of motion. Animated billiard balls help demonstrate kinetic energy.

How Pulleys Work
Grade: 4 - 12
In this lesson, an aerospace engineer explains how pulleys work, and how they are used to lift and transport the massive space shuttle.

How Gears Work
Grade: 4 - 12
The lesson discusses gears and how they work together as a simple machine. With a demonstration, it explains primary and follower gears, and how different-sized gears affect rotational speeds.

Simple Machine
Grade: 4 - 12
A lesson on simple machines - the types of machines, examples and uses.

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Common Core State Standards  
Related science topics: Types of Forces, Laws of Motion, Law of Conservation of Energy and Mass
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