Five Acre students study 'simple' machines

Five Acre students study 'simple' machines

Five Acre School's Explorer Class (students in grades 3-6) spent several weeks experimenting with planes, levers, screws, wheels, axles and pulleys as they gained an understanding of just how these simple machines help them in their daily lives.

With an eye toward the ultimate test of moving a 1,400-pound rock on the school's playground - somewhat of a tradition at the school - students experimented with mechanical concepts.

"The students gained an understanding of the language and the mechanical advantages of simple machines by working through concepts and experimenting with the different systems," said Tom Harris, Five Acre Explorer Class teacher.

Students collaborated in groups while constructing their various contraptions. Their "real-world" application came to fruition when they were able to move the 1,400-pound rock from one part of the schoolyard to the other, a task that some doubted could be done.

"It was such a big deal because we organized it and we did it," said student Liam Harris. "It taught us about teamwork ... and safety played a big part."

When asked what kind of simple machine can be used for moving such a rock, Lena Valentine wrote, "When moving a 1,400-pound rock, you need a strategy and some kind of plan."

Fiona Feighner wrote, "Moving the big rock changed my experience at Five Acre School ... it made me think hard about how to move it in an easy way. It helped me understand more about mechanical advantage and simple machines."

In each of their devices, students were using a simple machine that allowed them to achieve their goal with less muscle effort or in a shorter amount of time - proof that the age-old adage of working smarter, and not necessarily harder, can make your life easier.

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