Not so simple machine

Today the class learned about the six fundamental simple machines: (1) the inclined plane, (2) the wedge, (3) the screw, (4) the lever, (5) the wheel and axle, and (6) the pulley. We learned that any mechanical device is made up of one or more of these simple machines. For example, a bike is a conglomeration of wheels and axles, pulleys, and levers. In fact, any mechanism that is made of more than one simple machine is by definition a complex (or compound) machine. We noted that “complex” does not automatically mean “complicated;” an axe is a complex machine because it is a wedge plus a lever, but no one would claim that an axe is a complicated mechanical device.

We took what we learned about simple machines and used a combination of simple machines to design and build three-step Rube Goldberg devices designed to ring a bell. Teams used supplies provided by the Scientists along with their own desks to create some crazy, bell-ringing machines!


Una máquina no tan simple

Hoy el curso aprendió sobre las seis máquinas simples: 1) el plano inclinado, 2) la cuña, 3) el tornillo, 4) la palanca, 5) la rueda y el eje y 6) la polea. También aprendimos que todos los dispositivo mecánicos están compuestos por una o más de estas máquinas simples. Por ejemplo, una bicicleta es un conglomerado de ruedas y ejes, poleas y palancas.  De hecho, cualquier dispositivo que está  compuesto por más de una máquina simple, por definición, es una máquina compleja (o compuesta).

También discutimos que “complejo” no siempre significa “complicado. Por ejemplo, un hacha es una máquina compleja porque está compuesta por una cuña y una palanca, pero nadie podría decir que un hacha es un dispositivo mecánico complicado.

Con todo lo aprendido, usamos una combinación de máquinas simples para armar un dispositivo Rube Goldberg (un aparato que hace una tarea muy simple de una manera complicada) de tres pasos para llamar al timbre. Los científicos le entregaron herramientas a los estudiantes, quienes crearon unas máquinas para llamar al timbre ¡muy locas!


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Lauren Koppel

Lauren earned a Bachelor’s degree with a double major of Biology and Psychology from Clark University, and a Master of Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. During her undergraduate years, she worked in a evolutionary neurobiology lab that studied the neural development of annelids (marine worms), with a focus on the sox family of genes. Lauren loves learning about how the world works (including everything from biology to chemistry to engineering), and is passionate about sharing that knowledge and enthusiasm with others. In the past, she has interned at the Museum of Science, where she educated learners of all ages through hands-on activities, games, and experiments. Other science education organizations with which Lauren has worked include The People’s Science, EurekaFest, and Eureka! of Girls Inc. of Worcester. Currently she lives in Boston, where devotes her free time to playing Quidditch, reading sci-fi novels, playing her ukulele, and enjoying all the culinary delights the city has to offer.

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