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What About the Wheel and Axle?

Contributor: Nichole Brooker. Lesson ID: 11837

Can you imagine your car or bike without wheels? Would you try to push it around or drag it? What would be the point? Wheels and axles make life SO much easier, so learn to make a wheel and axle now!


Physical Science

learning style
Kinesthetic, Visual
personality style
Grade Level
Primary (K-2), Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Look at the picture of a wheel and axle above.

  • Can you think of a time when you have seen this simple machine?
  • What does it do?
  • Did you know that the wheel and axle were used over 5,000 years ago?

In your own words, explain to your teacher or parent how you think a wheel and axle work. The wheel is the round part of the machine, and the axle is the post that the wheel is attached to in order to create a tool.

wheel and axle

Image by George Payne Quackenbos, via Wikimedia Commons, is in the public domain.

If you have not completed the first two Related Lessons in our Simple Machine Fun! series, you can catch up in the right-hand sidebar.

To help you learn and remember the different uses for the wheel and axle, print Facts About Wheels and Axles, found in Downloadable Resources in the right-hand sidebar, and complete the handout as you learn.

The wheel and axle was first used for moving water from deep into the ground and from a river or lake. Early humans used wagons with wheels and axles to move heavy water. Another early use of the wheel was as a potter wheel, so people could easily make bowls, plates, and other pottery. The key word to that fact is, "easily." Since this is the third lesson of the series, review with your parent or teacher in your own words what simple machines are and why they are important to us.

potter's wheel

Image by Pearson Scott Foresman, via Wikimedia Commons, has been released into the public domain.

Wheels are used in tools like wheel barrows and carts.

wheelbarrow and shopping cart

Think about how hard it would be to go grocery shopping without the wheel and axle on a shopping cart. Wheels are an important simple machine that every person has used at some time in their life. Every moving vehicle uses wheels and axles. Here are examples:

Look around the room you are sitting in right now.

  • Do you see any wheels?
  • Are there any door knobs?


  • Do you have a rolling pin for flattening dough?

rolling pin

  • What about a ceiling fan?

ceiling fan

Another example is a record player, even though those are quite old and you may have never seen one!

record player

  • Have you ever seen a manual, old-fashioned pencil sharpener?

That is another example of a wheel and axle.

pencil sharpener

Have you ever worn roller blades or roller skates? If so, you have used wheels and axles as your own source of transportation!

roller blade and roller skate

As you can see, the wheel and axle is a very important simple machine for us. It is used daily for so many reasons and makes our lives much easier, and more fun!

In the Got It? section, you will get to put this new knowledge to use.

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