Simple Machines

Lorraine J. Epps Douglass Middle Math & Science Academy
543 N. Waller
Chicago IL 60644
(312) 534-6176


Grades K-8 Lesson duration: 2 to3 weeks
1. Identify simple machines (lever, inclined plane, screw, wheel and axle,
wedge, and pulley).

2. Recognize how simple machines make work easier by changing the size,
direction or speed of a force.

3. Design a complete machine consisting of at least three simple machines.

Materials Needed:

Spring scale, toy car, pulleys, wood board, weights, scissors, nutcracker, can
opener, workman tools (hammer, screw driver, wrenches, etc.) Toys, variety of
materials used for making designs.


1. Identify Simple Machines. Participate in a class discussion about the six
simple machines which enable people to accomplish work with the least
possible work, observe the six different simple machines and how they work.
Teacher will explain and demonstrate how two or more simple machines can
be used together to make compound machines or complex machines.

2. Recognize Simple Machines. Have several students reach into a brown bag
filled with a variety of tools used in the home, at school, in the office,
in the yard, etc. Students will determine what simple machines make up
that tool and what the tools are used for.

3. Design a Complex Machine. Break up the class into groups. Each group is
given materials needed to design a complex machine, using at least three
of the six machines. Students' machine should have a practical use. Draw
a diagram of your machine. Label each simple machine component. Explain
how your machine works.

Performance Assessment:

1. Teacher Observation-how machines work.

2. Recorded data on graph(s)

3. At completion of lesson, students will be able to answer the following

a. What is a simple machine and how many are there?
b. What are the two parts of a lever?
c. There are two types of pulleys; name them.
d. Define inclined plane.
e. What are samples of a screw? Wedge?
f. Name one advantage of the wheel.


DeWeese, Bob; Playground Physics, Simple Machines Varnado, Jewel; Basic Science for Living-Book 2
Return to Physics Index