Clever Levers!

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?

The five simple machines we investigated were inclined planes, levers, wheels, pulleys, and hydraulics. From these simple machines, more complex machines can be made.  Students performed experiments to see how the force changed using an inclined plane and lever.  If we change the slope of a ramp that affects the advantage we get.  Similarly, if we change the effort arm of a lever we get a different mechanical advantage. We picked one of the smallest students from the class to lift up one of our adult instructors using a hydraulic system. Ask your child if that student had an easy time lifting the instructor up. Students really enjoyed this lesson and had a blast with the activities!


Additional Resources:

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

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