This week we began studying simple machines. We began by exploring wheels. First, we compared pulling someone on a wagon turned upside down (using no wheels) to pulling someone on a wagon using the wheels. All of the children found that it was much easier to use the wheels! We thought of many machines that utilize wheels and some children made a list of those machines.
We also demonstrated how the wheel concept works as a table top activity.
The next simple machine we explored was the inclined plane. Here we lifted a stack of heavy books by pulling them up with a rope. This proved to be a difficult task!
We then asked the children to pull the books up using an inclined plane. A smooth piece of wood was used. This was much easier!
We then used table top works to continue this experimentation.
These types of activities gives the children a concrete experience of the definition of what a machine is: things which make work easier.
Both of these experiments are from the wonderful book, "Nuturing the Young Scientist: Experiences in Physics for Children" by Meg Murphy Fedorowicz.