Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Simple Machines: Levers

Onto the second category of simple machines: levers! First, we just talked about levers themselves (wheels and pulleys had their own dedicated days). Levers are so fun to play with. We found examples of the different classes of levers around the house. Here's one site that gives a description of each lever class. We had several books on this.

I also think this popsicle-stick chain reaction would be a fun activity to do when studying levers!
We had a great time playing around with levers: changing the length, position of the fulcrum, etc., and seeing what happened. It was pretty easy to lift Goldie! :)
Harder to lift Seb.
Even harder to lift Abraham!

Next, we made catapults. Making catapults is always fun, but we particularly liked this new design we discovered. Some catapults we've made in the past are kind of flimsy, but this one was sturdy—and easy enough to make that even the littler ones could do it by themselves, once they saw how the basic triangle component was constructed. The guy that made up this catapult has a great website with notes on castles and sieges and other catapult designs to try. If we'd been making these for a Middle Ages Unit instead of a Simple Machines unit, we would have tried out some other designs too.

We shot marshmallows and Hershey's kisses with our catapults. Fun!
It was a pretty impressive way to see the power of a lever!
And here's a bonus picture of the children using some levers on the "Archimedes Playground" at the Museum of Natural Curiosity. Fun!

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