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 six simple machines we investigated were inclined planes, levers, wheels and axles, pulleys, wedges and screws.  We also discussed Rube Goldberg and his complicated machines designed for performing simple tasks.   Students performed an experiment to see how the force changed using an inclined plane.  We picked one of the smallest students from the class to lift up Dr. Sullivan using a hydraulic system (car jack). Ask your child if that student had an easy time lifting the instructor up. Students did a great job reviewing simple machines and really enjoyed exploring hydraulics with the water filled syringes.

Additional Resources:

Check out this cool video demonstrating how simple machines can be combined to form complex machines: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ve4M4UsJQo

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