Brief Description:

Students will be introduced to simple machines and practice building them.

Grades: 3, 4, 5, 6

Time: 1-2 hours

Keywords: simple machines, levers, pulleys, gears, wheel and axle, inclined plane, screw

Lesson Objectives

  • Students will learn about and become familiar with simple machines


  • Legos (can be simple machines kits)
  • String


  1. Set up simple machines stations around the classroom. One simple machine per station. Include some example photos.
  2. Introduce each simple machine:
    1. Lever-a stiff bar that rests on a support called a fulcrum which lifts or moves loads.
    2. Pulley-a simple machine that uses grooved wheels and a rope to raise, lower or move a load.
    3. Gears- wheels with teeth that can either increase the speed of a machine or its force
    4. Wheel and Axle-A wheel with a rod, called an axle, through its center lifts or moves loads.
    5. Inclined Plane-a slanting surface connecting a lower level to a higher level.
    6. Screw-an inclined plane wrapped around a pole which holds things together or lifts materials.
  3. Go through this simple machines powerpoint and have students identify the real world examples of simple machines.  
  4. Allow students to walk around between stations and attempt to build their own version of each simple machine.
    1. Depending on how many simple machine stations were set up, this may take 2 hours as each station will take ~10 minutes.
  5. Allow students to present the examples they built and discuss what functions each simple machine has.
  6. Clean up


Tufts Student Teacher Outreach Mentorship Program • 200 Boston Ave. • Suite G810 • Medford, MA • 617-627-5888

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