Applied Science - Technology (KA)

  • Exploring different simple machines.
  • Comparing different machines.


  • axle
  • gear
  • lever
  • pulley
  • wedge
  • wheel

Students discover simple machines.


A lever can help move heavy objects by using weight effectively. A see-saw is a lever that helps you pick up another person of the same or greater weight. 

A wheel and axle work together to make objects move easily. A car, bicycle, and motorcycle all use wheels and axles. 

A gear helps distribute energy and moves objects. Many machines such as cars, lawn mowers, and bicycles have gears. Students will be most familiar with the gears on a bike. 

A pulley helps lift and move difficult objects. Examples include two pulleys on a clothes-line or big cranes that lift large objects. A wedge helps to concentrate energy. If a logger wants to cut a log, an axe is used.

  1. Discuss different machines that use simple machines. Students have learned some basic words to help them describe how a simple machine works. Go over the vocabulary list and show or discuss examples of each of the simple machines.
  2. In your module is a nutcracker (lever), an apple peeler (lever), and an egg slicer (lever and wedge)  add and egg beater (wheel and axle plus gear). Show each of the machines to the students and slowly go over the function of each of the machines. In this exercise the students should look at several ways that these mechanisms work.
  3. This activity works best if you have adults at each area demonstrating the different simple machines. Have the students examine and experiment with each machine except for the apple peeler.

Station 1. APPLE PEELER. Have the children guess what is going to happen to the apple when the apple peeler is used. Go over the parts of the apple (skin, core, meat) as you cut the apple skin away from the meat. The apple peeler is used as a lever to cut the apple. The blade however, is shaped as a wedge. Give each child a sample of the apple to test.
Station 2. NUTCRACKER. Have the children try and figure out how the nutcracker works. You may want to demonstrate if they are frustrated. Let them eat the nuts as a reward for learning that the nutcracker is a lever.
Station 3.
EGGBEATER. Have the children try and make the eggbeater work in a tub of soap water. Emphasize that they are using gears to make the eggbeater move. Students love this activity, so prepare for a mess!

Station 4. EGG SLICER.  Have the children make a ball with the modeling compound and place in the egg slicer and try to cut the modeling compound.

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