An Exploration of Simple Machines

by Nikki Bisesi


Students will investigate the history and uses of the six simple machines through use of both the Internet and classroom activities. Students will be able to identify key inventors involved in the identification of simple machines and how more complex machines can be created from them. Students will work together in cooperative learning groups while researching on the Internet.


This is a week long project designed to help the student understand how simple machines work. Students will work together in small groups on several activities designed to challenge and stimulate their brains. On the first day, they will investigate the history of the simple machines and collect information about various inventors. Day 2 will be spent finishing Day 1's project and beginning to develop an original compound machine. Days 3 and 4 will give the students an opportunity to conduct further research on the Internet and to perfect their inventions. On the last day, students will present their projects to the class. This lesson plan will promote critical thinking and problem solving skills.


pencils, paper, grocery bags, copies of instructions, and computers with Internet access


The class will be divided up into small groups (3 or 4 students per group if there are enough computers available). Each group will receive an unusual gadget. The groups will be given 10 minutes to brainstorm about what they think the object does. The groups will then share their ideas with the rest of the class and the others will give any other opinions that they might have about the gadgets function. No answers will be given until the end of the lesson.


Each group will be assigned an inventor to research on the Internet. There is a great deal of information out there on Galileo, Leonardo, Newton, and Archimedes. All groups will receive a list of web sites that will be helpful in their search but they will be encouraged to discover additional sites. Students should be encouraged to find out as much information as possible on their inventor such as: where they lived, dates of birth and death, what they did for a living, where they were schooled, major inventions, and any problems they may have faced from society.



Students will also be researching the history of the six simple machines. What are they? When, where, and how were they first used? How have they been used over the years?


After the groups have finished gathering information on simple machines and their inventor, they will have a couple of activities to complete. The groups will put together a biography in the form of a resume for their inventor listing all of the accomplishments and facts that they have found on the Internet. Second, the students will make a chart showing the information they found on the six simple machines. Both will be shared with the class and then turned in for credit. The class will have a brief discussion about what was learned.

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