Simple Machines: Pulley

There are six types of simple machines:

  • lever
  • wheel and axle
  • pulley
  • inclined plane
  • wedge
  • screw

Simple Machines

Six different things that we can “build” at home to lessen our “work” load!

Today we are “building” a pulley.   Sorry for the excessive use of quotations, but as you will see, the word building is used loosely here…after all, the machines ARE simple.

Pulley for Kids

We gathered our pulley supplies: (affiliate links)

We lifted the VERY heavy English book.   I tied it on to one end of the string and had the boys see how heavy it was to lift the book with just their hand.

THEN we looped the string OVER the rolling pin and tried to lift the book again with the same hand.

pulley is a simple machineEach boy expressed amazement at how much easier it was to lift the book with the pulley.

They then took another 50 or so turns followed by a hunt through the house for things to practice lifting with and without our fancy pulley.

What is a simple machine?

A simple machine is a device that has a mechanism that can be used as a building block for more complicated machine.

A pulley is a wheel on an axle that is designed to support movement of a cable or belt along its circumference. – Oxford English Dictionary

Pulleys can be used to lift weight.   In the simplest terms, a pulley works because the portions of rope on either side are supporting 1/2 the weight.   There are ways to cut this load even more by combining fixed pulleys, making the pulley movable, or combining fixed and movable pulleys into a compound pulley.

We weren’t too worried about the math implications of all this today, but exploring that could put numbers to something that they can experience.

The boys went through the house and garage looking for pulley machines at work.

The most notable were the light fixture in our game room and a Lego pulley built into the boys’ Lego village, but the boys remembered a MUCH better pulley…

bucket pulley on treehouse…the bucket pulley at Grandpa’s tree house.

Have science-curious kids?   Check out some of our recent science activities:

11 Comments

  1. Thanks Brenna,
    Looks like your class had a ton of fun with it!
    Holly

  2. My 9 year old will totally dig this! Thanks for the ideas!

  3. Excellent resource Holly! Thank you. Just in time for 2nd Grade Science at Homeschool Cooperative. Gracias!

  4. I don’t think I would have thought to use a rolling pin for a pulley, love that idea!

    Thanks for linking up to Science Sunday!

  5. Ooh clever! I bet the boys were fascinated!

    Thanks for sharing on Kids Get Crafty!

    Maggy & Alissa

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