Do you want to learn how to use levers, pulleys, gears and pneumatics to manoeuvre objects more easily? This pack has the mechanisms required to allow a small force to have a great effect.
Who could use this?
The resources in the box can be used to teach the gears, pulleys and levers aspects of the Year 5 science curriculum. This box can also be used to deliver the mechanical systems aspects of the Key Stage 2 Design Technology curriculum
See also our page on levers, pulleys and gears for Ks1 and 2.
Year 5 Science: Forces – recognise that some mechanisms, including levers, pulleys and gears, allow a smaller force to have a greater effect.
Key Stage 2 Design Technology
- Design- generate, develop, model and communicate their ideas through discussion, annotated sketches, cross-sectional and exploded diagrams, prototypes, pattern pieces and computer-aided design
- Make- select from and use a wider range of materials and components, including construction materials, textiles and ingredients, according to their functional properties and aesthetic qualities
- Evaluate- evaluate their ideas and products against their own design criteria and consider the views of others to improve their work
- Technical knowledge – understand and use mechanical systems in their products [for example, gears, pulleys,
cams, levers and linkages]
What’s in the box?
- Everyday objects for sorting
- Pre-cut card levers
- Pneumatics pack
- Levers book set
- Gears class set
- Wooden pulleys
- Cam packs
Download the complete contents list here.
The Primary Science Teaching Trust has some additional careers links you may like to look at. These are called A scientist just like me and introduce children to a diverse range of scientists.
Roller Coaster Design
Notes and extensions from our secondary workshop
They may be great fun, but there is some serious physics involved in designing a roller coaster. This workshop looks at some of the different specialists who are required to bring a ride from the drawing board to the theme park. Scientists and engineers need to be experts at team work so that they can bring complex projects to realisation; in this workshop we focus on how scientists have to work together in order to solve problems.
Using K’nex, we look at how structural engineers use clever design to create strong, safe and economical structures. We discuss how different shapes can confer different properties on a structure and the concepts of tension, compression, shear and torsion forces. We then construct a model roller coaster and look at the design elements that have been used to create a loop structure.
Once our roller coaster loop is constructed we need to make sure that our carriage will make it all the way around. This involves being able to calculate gravitational potential energy, kinetic energy and centripetal force. A great example of how important these calculations can be is shown here by Greg Foot’s larger version.
In our workshop, we compare our experimental results to the calculated results, and discuss the disparity.
Our next expert lets us take a look at the different types of materials that are needed. How can we match up the correct material to the specific role? Materials scientists have to consider strength, durability, flexibility, cost, density, how changes in weather will effect it, and its environmental impact – basically they need to think of every possible detail from the paint on the supports to the padding on the chairs. They will have to work closely with the designers and safety regulators to ensure that the materials they choose will do the job they want.
We also need to think carefully about how to make our roller coaster safe for the riders. Part of this is working out the g forces that will be experienced. We look at ways of measuring these experimentally and through calculations. You can see how important g forces are by watching this video about the forces experienced by astronauts and fighter pilots.
Roller Coaster Games
There are loads of great games dedicated to roller coaster design; this is one of my favourites. It shows the relationship between gravitational potential energy and kinetic energy and lets you experiment with different designs. Be warned though, it’s not as easy as it appears at first.
For a more in depth look at some of the different variables involved, try out this game.
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Simple mechanisms have been part of the primary DT curriculum for some time. However, levers, pulleys and gears are now also in the primary science curriculum.
Here at Think Physics, we’ve a few suggestions about how primary teachers can link DT and science to develop cross-curricular themes. We started by looking at the science behind the three simple machines and then considered how to develop the science using the DT principles of Design, Make, Evaluate.
This included thinking about how we could use a coat hanger catapult to help the Gingerbread man across the river and how to get tomatoes down a hillside in Nepal using pulleys.
We’ve developed a CPD session which works through our ideas, and you are welcome to make use of the resources from the session.
Levers, pulleys and gears presentation
Household objects card-sort
Catapult building instructions
Clipbank. A short video of acrobats using a big lever to launch themselves into the air.
Imagination Factory. A resource which supports the teaching of simple machines with lots of simple practical ideas.
Squashed tomato challenge. An activity from Practical Action. Help your students see the real life use of the science they have been learning about. Excellent for STEM days and works for a wide age range.
Paper animations from Rob Ives. (£). A site all about paper animations for you and your students to build. Great to extend your keen students.
Heath Robinson machines (UK) or Rube Goldberg machines (USA). These can be described as complicated machines to solve simple tasks. Building one of these machines as the final activity of a unit on simple machines would be a good challenge for your pupils.
Here is a lovely video by OK Go showing a Rube Goldberg machine – though I don’t expect your pupils to be quite so complex.
This site from Connections Academy has some useful ideas about what your machines might include.
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