Six Simple Machines: The Lever

It is no surprise to anyone who has read my previous blog posts that this year was stressing me out a little. (Ha! a little?) This is partly because I have found a source of funding that naturally has a few strings attached. Not heavy chords, of course, but strings nonetheless, and I am not used to being told what to do. (I know! Lucky me!)

One of the requirements for this extra funding is providing either an entrepreneurship, engineering, or technology class. I chose engineering because that just means building things and goes right along with childhood anyway, right? We’ll program robots and work on budget reports later.

Still, I have never done this sort of thing before and it has been stressing me out.

So far, however, the results have been pretty fun. We’re starting with the six simple machines and learning about what they are and how they work. We are using a couple of books, little model sets made by Engino, and fun little project/experiments you can make around the house. This is our Friday afternoon activity. I’m thinking I’ll just read them a bit of instruction from our informational books the first week, and then for 3 or 4 weeks after that let them pick whichever project they want to do, either from the kits or the project lists, and let them at it.

Now, before I throw photos of lever after lever after lever at you, here is a little info I gleaned about levers and a little trick to memorizing it (if you are so inclined.)

“A lever is a rigid bar resting on a pivot, used to help move a heavy or firmly fixed load with one end when pressure is applied to the other.” Thank you online dictionary. So a crowbar is a lever. There are three classes of levers, aptly named 1st class, 2nd class, and 3rd class. The pivot is called a fulcrum. So 1st class has the load (weight) on one end, the fulcrum in the middle, and the effort (force applied) on the other end. Example: A balance scale or scissors (double lever! bonus points!) Second class levers have the fulcrum on one end, the load in the middle, and the effort on the opposite end. Example: a wheelbarrow. And 3rd class levers have the fulcrum on one end, the effort in the middle, and the load on the opposite end. Example: A broom or a baseball bat. (Generally a visual at this point will help that all make sense. Feel free to google that for a minute.)

You can just remember it like this. First class = Fulcrum in the middle. Second Class = Load in the middle. (Get it? L is the second letter of “class?”) Third class = Effort in the middle (because there are no other options. Pull out the If-the-answer-isn’t-A-or-B,-it-has-to-be-C philosophy.)

Now you are something of an expert on levers! Nice job.

Here are a bunch of levers we made with various models using the Engino blocks.

1st class lever – A letter balance.WP_20160819_14_38_16_Pro

1st class lever – a car gate

2nd class lever – a swing (and every single little doll gets a turn – because we also teach sharing in this school!)

And just for fun and because some people have a hard time waiting for “gears” month and whatever month the other one is supposed to be in and why the heck not – a high speed fan and an airplane.