Science & Technology Resources for Teachers and Parents

Rube-Goldberg Machines

The Six Simple Machines Lessons Plans

Imagine this: almost 3000 years ago, you were one of the builders of the King’s Chamber inside the Great Pyramid of Giza and your job was to find a way to move a stone that weighed 25 metric tonnes. What would you do?

History tells us that long ago, someone faced just that problem, but on a smaller scale. He or she picked up a long stick and stuck it under the edge of the heavy object and then pushed down on the other end of the stick. And that was how the very first simple machine was invented! Simple machines are just that. The simplest form of using one thing to accomplish something faster or better: a tool. Simple machines were the first ones created and we still use them today. There are 6 basic simple machines: a pole used for lifting (the lever), the wheel and axle, the inclined plane, the wedge, the pulley, and the screw. Although some of these simple machines are related to each other, each has a specific purpose in the world of doing work.

These lesson plans and complementary resources are designed to help children in elementary school science classes learn about each of the 6 simple machines separately and in detail, and then think about ways to combine them to make a Rube Goldberg Machine. Grade-specific curriculum expectations are included.

The Widget Workshop

A Strong Wall

With this widget, students will build walls out of different materials and test their strength under various conditions.

Bending Plants

This widget requires students to bend a plant stem using only light.

Button Spinner

This widget shows how energy can change from one form into another.

Inertia Zoom Ball

With this widget, students will explore a law of motion by building and playing with an Inertia Zoom Ball.

Jitter Critter

This widget looks at the force of friction as the critter 'jitters' down a broom handle.

Lazy Susan

This widget demonstrates a way to reduce friction by using bearings when building a household storage item.

Static Friction / Moving Friction

This widget requires students to determine whether it is more difficult to start motion or keep something moving.

Strong Shapes / Which is Strongest?

This widget explores different technological designs and shapes.

Super Listener Earphones

This widget demonstrates that sound results from vibrating objects.

Terrific Torque

This widget introduces a top that uses torque to increase its spin.

Up and Down Dino

This widget uses the force of gravity to raise and lower the neck of the dinosaur.

Windmill

This widget demonstrates how wind can produce energy.

Easy Electromagnet

This widget has students make a magnet using electricity.

Hoopglider / Boomerang

These two widgets deal with flight, lift, torque, and drag.

Kaleidoscope

This widget demonstrates how mirrors affect light.

Making Fossils / Lasting Records

With these widgets, students make their own fossil and compare it to the object that created it.

Solar Cooking

This widget allows students to explore how the sun's energy can be harnessed to do chemical work.

Super Listener Earphones

With this widget, students can use hearing devices to listen to objects vibrating around and within them.

The Night Sky / Where is the North Star?

With these widgets, students learn about the sun, moon, stars, and clouds, as well as how to locate the North Star.

The Pulley / What Gears Do

These two widgets are aimed at exploring what simple pulley and gear systems do.

Twisting and Turning

This widget deals with the position and motion of objects, changed by pushing or pulling.

Weird Whirlers

This widget has students explore the centripetal force that arises from spinning in a circular motion.

Windmill

This widget demonstrates how wind can produce energy.

Cartesian Diver

This widget is designed to help illustrate density.

Hoopglider / Boomerangs

These two widgets deal with flight, lift, torque, and drag.

Hovercrafts

With this widget, students discover how hovercrafts drive air beneath themselves to create an air cushion.

Roll Can

This widget lets students look at how a system can store energy.

Solar Cooking

This widget allows students to explore how the sun's energy can be harnessed to do chemical work.

Weird Whirlers

This widget has students explore the centripetal force that arises from spinning in a circular motion.

Weird Wonder

With this widget, students will look into what happens when you stare at one colour for a long time.

Science Demonstration Lessons

Understanding Life Systems

Budding Biologists

How are living things adapted for survival? Through hands-on activities, students will learn about the form and function of insects and birds. Students will eat like a bird and build or become an imaginary insect.

Diversity of Living Things

Students will explore the diversity of different Kingdoms and focus on the diversity of red blood cells of 5 different animal groups.

Understanding Structures and Mechanisms

The Classic Egg Drop Competition

What forces act on the egg as it falls? Why is packaging important? Through team work, students will work together to build a structure to protect an egg from a ~4ft drop.

Pulleys and Gears

How do pulleys and gears work? Students will examine this question through hands on methods.

Understanding Matter and Energy

Physical and Chemical Changes

What is a physical change? What is a chemical change? Students will learn the difference between these and create a chemical change of their own, making slime.

Electricity

What is electricity? Where does it come from? Students will build their own battery
to introduce them to the concept of a circuit.

Biology

Forest and Lake Ecosystems in Ontario

Students learn about the importance of preserving the ecosystems here in our province.

Forensic Investigation

Students will undertake various forensic tests, including DNA extraction from a fruit, in order to solve a mystery.

Chemistry

Substances and Mixtures

What is the difference between substances and mixtures? Students examine analytical techniques on how to separate mixtures into pure substances.