Can you lift your teacher?

Mechanical Advantage:  The Advantage of Tools

What are tools and why do we use them?   In this lesson, students learned about the concept of mechanical advantage and how it relates to simple machines. The measurable way that machines and tools make our work easier is called the mechanical advantage. Obviously, most tools make a job easier but will the total amount of work change if we use a machine or not?

We started the lesson by challenging a student to lift Mr. Crook! Of course this seemed like a very difficult task…until we gave her a 2-ton capacity hydraulic jack to use! With the help of a simple machine she was easily able to lift him a foot off the ground.

Students then performed experiments to explore how the use of inclined planes and levers amplify force to help us do work. By changing the slope of a ramp or the length and position of a lever we can change the amount of mechanical advantage we get. We also talked about how some machines, such as pulleys, may not amplify force, but help us in that they redirect the force thereby making the work easier. This concept of mechanical advantage doesn’t just apply to traditional machines (pulleys, gears, ramps, etc.), but also more common items we use such as baseball bats and golf clubs!


Additional Resources:

Check out this cool video demonstrating how simple machines can be combined to form complex machines:

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