Dirtmeister's Science Reporters

Investigate and Report on Simple Machines
What are simple machines and where can you find them? Simple machines help you move things more easily, and you can find them everywhere!
Hello, science reporters! I challenge you to learn about the six types of simple machines. Then find an example of one you've seen at school, home, or anywhere and write about it. Get started by investigating the facts. 

1. Investigate the Facts
Simple machines are "simple" because most have only one moving part. Some are so simple, they don't have any moving parts! When you put simple machines together, you get a complex machine, like a lawn mower, a car, even an electric nose hair trimmer! Remember, a machine is any device that makes work easier. In science, "work" means making something move. 

It's important to know that when you use a simple machine, you're actually doing the same amount of work it just seems easier. A simple machine reduces the amount of effort needed to move something, but you wind up moving it a greater distance to accomplish the same amount of work. So remember, there's a trade?off of energy when using simple machines.

Now you're ready to observe and record.

Learn more about these
Simple Machines:
There are only six types of simple machines. Each can be used in many different ways. 

The gear is sometimes considered a simple machine, but a gear is really just a wheel with teeth.
Inclined Plane
Wheel and Axle

2. Observe & Record
Find and observe one simple machine that's used in your home, school, or community. Print out this page and answer the questions below. When you're done taking notes on this form, write your report.
Simple Machines Observation Sheet Your Name: _______________________

1. What object did you find?

2. What type of simple machine is it? If your object is made up of more than one simple machine, list all of them.

3. How can you tell what type of simple machine your object is?

4. How does this simple machine make a job easier?

5. There is always a "trade off" of effort with simple machines. Explain what you're "trading off" to get the job done more easily with this simple machine.

3. Report Your Findings
Are you done investigating and observing a simple machine? Before you write your report, you may want to review my notes from Investigate the Facts about the kind of simple machine you found. Compare your notes with my description. Are you sure what you found is a simple machine?" 
Report Your Findings Your Name: _______________________

1. What object did you find? (For example: Wheelchair ramp)

Answer the following questions with complete sentences, and combine them into a paragraph.

2. What type of simple machine is it?
3. How can you tell what type of simple machine your object is?
4. How does this simple machine make a job easier?
5. What are you "trading off" to get the job done more easily with this simple machine?

4. Read Kids' Reports
Kids around the country are getting the dirt on simple machines. Check out some examples of what they've found. How do their findings compare to yours?

Electric Can-Opener
Luis M., Grade 4, IL

An electric can-opener is an example of a wedge, a screw, a lever and a wheel with axle. The wedge is on the cutter. The screw holds the can-opener together. The wheel and axle is holding the cutter on. The lever is the handle. The cutter cuts the can by itself. We just need to push the lever, instead of turning a handle a lot of times.

Highway On-Ramp
Brandon A. - Grade 7, SC

A highway on-ramp is an example of an inclined plane. A highway-on ramp allows cars to go from one level of road to another level of road. Cars can't go up steps so the ramp makes it easier. You get a shortcut but a lot of nature is gone.

Door Knob
Brittany Ann K., Grade 4, IL

A door knob is an example of a wheel with axle. The wheel is the circle that connects the handles together. The axle is the part that goes through the door and lets the knob turn. This simple machine makes things easier to open and close. The trade-off is you don't have to pull or push and you can just turn the handle.

Window-blind Cord
Erica, Grade 3, IL

A window-blind cord is an example of a pulley. When you pull the string it goes up. It's easier to pull than to lift. The short string needs to be pulled many more times.

Ice-Cream Scooper
Jessica & Michelle, Grade 3, NJ

An ice-cream scooper is an example of a wheel with axle. When you pull the handle the scooper turns and pushes out the ice cream. It makes the job easier because for scooping ice cream you need power, but with an ice cream scooper you don't need much power. If there were no ice cream scooper you would have to scoop ice cream with a spoon.