A Simple Machines Hunt At The Hardware Store

This is an easy no-need-to-plan-ahead expedition.  Head over to your local hardware store and challenge the kids to find some simple machines.

Go to the hardware store to hunt for simple machines - a physics lesson.

Simple machines work for us so we don’t have to.  Think of a wheelbarrow– its wheel and axle make it possible for us to lift and move heavy loads without as much effort.  The pulley on a flagpole allows us to post the colors without climbing the pole.  Just this weekend I used the wedge side of a sledgehammer to pry up some tile on my kitchen floor.  Simple machines make work easier, and the hardware store is full of them.

Look for examples of these:

  • pulleys (use grooved wheels and a rope to raise, lower, or move a load)
  • levers (a stiff bar that rests on a fulcrum to lift or move loads)
  • wedges (an object with at least one slanting side that ends in a sharp edge)
  • wheel and axle (a wheel with a rod through its center)
  • inclined planes (a slanting surface that connects a lower and higher elevation)
  • screws (an inclined plane wrapped around a pole)

Additional Layers

  • Complex machines, like an automobile for instance, are made up of simple machines combined together.  See if you can find some of the simple machines within complex machines.
  • While talking about tools teach your child to do a simple repair around your house.  Change out a light switch, stop a leaky faucet, repair a doorknob (or the hole left behind it in your wall), switch the knobs out on the kitchen cabinets for something prettier, or another repair that’s needed doing.

More From Layers of Learning

1-10

Unit 1-10 has lots more about simple machines.

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