Machines That Help
1: 4 minutes 53 seconds
| MTH challenges
students to create a device that multiplies a modest
force applied through a piece of string and raises
a heavy can of food 10cm.
That Help is a 2-4 week science, math or tech
ed activity from the Learning
By Design™ curriculum. It asks students to
investigate different simple machines and learn how
they provide mechanical advantage and multiply forces.
Teams use this knowledge to combine various simple machine
elements into a device that enables a user to lift a
heavy weight with a small force applied through 1 strand
of cotton thread.
One trait about designing that MTH emphasizes is that
off the shelf systems can be combined in unique ways
to produce new products (e.g. clock + radio = clock
radio). Students also can use their math skills with
this task -- after measuring the distance traveled by
the Applied and Output Forces, they can calculate their
device's Mechanical Advantage.
See ways to present the Machines challenge and
initial difficulties students typically have
Watch an opening science demo that makes the
advantages machines provide more real for students.
See an early brainstorming session, discussion,
and a pin-up presentation of initial design
Watch an experiment where students directly
experience the force constraints of the MTH
Students catalog the engineering and science
ideas they know and don't for how machines work.
Two lessons on these simple machines.
Teaching lesson that addresses the notion of
tradeoffs and mechanical advantage.
Read suggestions for how you can tailor the
MTH lessons for your own students.
You can view and print out copies of the Student and Teacher Materials for Machines That Help
by clicking on the appropriate icon or title below:
Materials List (See attached sheet):
- 1 Large-sized can of food (approx. 3kg)
- 1 Spool of single-strand cotton thread
- 2 x 6" 8' or longer board of lumber
- Roll of duct tape
- 3 x 35-cm piece of pegboard
- Box of paper clips
- Cardboard box, lid or bottom (banana box)
- Heavy-duty scissors
- Large plastic straw
- Wire coat hangers