|Dirtmeister's Science Lab on Levers|
Grade Levels: K - 5
Background Information: Levers
Managing Time & Students
Related Web Sites
The Dirtmeister is your personal guide to hands-on science exploration in the classroom. By participating in Dirtmeister's Science Labs, kids have the opportunity to experience science firsthand. The steps in completing the challenge follow the same methodology used by scientists in solving problems. After reading the question, students are encouraged to formulate hypotheses. With science expert Steve Tomecek (the "Dirtmeister") serving as facilitator, students complete the hands-on investigation and check their results against their predictions.
Teachers who participate in the challenge also have the opportunity to gain valuable experience in teaching inquiry-based science because each new challenge helps to reinforce basic science concepts. For personal advice and support from Steve, join the Hands-On Science discussion in the Teacher Center.Top of Page
In this experiment, we explore the wonderful world of simple machines, focusing on levers and how they work. Using some basic materials found around the home or classroom, students will construct a lever system and test several variables.
Levers belong to a class of objects called "simple machines" because they all have a minimal amount of moving parts. Other simple machines include the screw, the wheel and axle, the inclined plane, the pulley, and the wedge. The job of a machine, whether simple or complex, is to accomplish work more easily by somehow transforming energy or motion. To put it another way, machines help you get a job done with less effort.
The origin of the lever goes back to prehistoric times when people discovered that placing a rock under the end of a strong stick made it easier to lift heavy objects. All levers have two main parts: the arm, which does the actual movement, and the fulcrum, the point at which the lever pivots. In the case of this month's project, the pencil is the fulcrum. What we're working with this month is called a first class lever because the fulcrum is between the two ends of the arm. The end of the lever on which the force is applied is called the effort arm because this is where you must exert the effort. The end of the lever that does the lifting is called the load arm. By changing the position of the fulcrum, you can use a lever to lift a greater load without expending as much effort.
As with all simple machines, levers appear to give you "free energy" because your effort is reduced. However, as we all know, you don't get something for nothing. While it's true that moving the fulcrum closer to the load makes it easier to lift the load, you have to physically move the lever a greater distance. In this case, you're trading effort for distance. In the end, the amount of work you do is exactly the same.Top of Page
Learning Outcomes/National Standards Correlations
The Dirtmeister's Science Lab on levers helps students meet the following science content standards as set forth by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences:
Managing Time and Students
Classroom management is always a critical factor for any successful lesson, and the Dirtmeister's Science Lab is no exception. The following strategies will help to maximize the use of the activity in various classroom situations:
Here are some suggestions to enhance the experience of Dirtmeister's Science Lab for your students:
Extensions on LeversGrades K-2:
General ExtensionsGrades K-2:
The following Scholastic supplemental materials can be used in conjunction with Dirtmeister's Science Lab.
Call Scholastic directly at 1-800-724-6527 to order and for more information.Top of Page
Related Web Sites
Simple MachinesLego Dacta Enrichment Project: Gander Academy
A site created by the Centre for Innovative Technology Education provides eight activities for using Lego Dacta equipment in the classroom to focus on gears and pulleys. Lesson plans and student worksheets are provided.
Science and Technology for Children Curriculum
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