Simple Machines

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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Leighann Sullivan earned her BS in Biology from Cornell University. For a number of years she taught math, science, and language skills at a secondary school for learning disabled students. She subsequently earned her PhD in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from Rice University. Her dissertation was entitled, “Molecular and Genomic Analyses in Clostridium acetobutylicum.” When not pursuing academic interests she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, reading, and experimenting in the culinary arts.

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