Simple Machines

Contributor: Victoria Surface. Lesson ID: 10420

Pulleys and levers and screws, oh my! Explore all six types of simple machines and discover how they are used in daily life — even if you are not building a great pyramid with them!


Physical Science, Science

learning style
personality style
Lion, Otter
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • How did the Egyptians' laborers build the Great Pyramids thousands of years ago without modern tools such as cranes and trucks?

Watch this short video to get an idea!

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Simple machines help make work easier. They allow us to change the size and direction of forces.

Explore the six types of simple machines, examples of simple machines in everyday life, and how they make work easier.

The six types of simple machines are listed below.

  • lever
  • inclined plane or ramp
  • wheel and axle
  • screw
  • wedge
  • pulley

Each simple machine is designed to make work easier.

As you work through this lesson take notes using the Graphic Organizer - Notes found in the Downloadable Resources in the right-hand sidebar.

Read About Simple Machines to learn about each type. Be sure to click on each type of simple machine and take notes answering the following questions.

  • What is the definition of each simple machine?
  • What is the simple machine designed to do?
  • What are the parts of the simple machine?
  • What are some examples of a simple machine?

Next, watch the video below, pausing to take notes on your Graphic Organizer - Notes using these questions as a guide.

  • Why is a roller coaster a simple machine?
  • What are examples of simple machines?
  • What do simple machines do?
  • How does a pulley work?
  • What do levers allow us to do?
  • What does the fulcrum of the lever do?
  • What examples of levers were used in the video?
  • How many parts does a lever have, and what are they called?
  • What are some common types of levers?
  • What happens when you push down on one side of a lever?
  • How does a ramp make things easier to lift?
  • What is a screw?
  • What types of simple machines are on a bike? How are they used?
  • How does a prosthetic arm or leg work?
  • What types of simple machines do movers use, and how do they use them?
  • What does a pulley do?
  • What examples of how pulleys are used in everyday life?

Don't forget to pause the video to record your answers.

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When you are finished taking notes, head over to the Got It? section.

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