Simple Machines Are Everywhere!

Contributor: Jay Gregorio. Lesson ID: 13256

The earliest humans used simple machines to make work easier. But did you know that YOU use simple machines EVERY DAY as well? Or that you need simple machines to make complex ones? It's true!



learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5), Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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The Great Pyramids of Egypt are one of the most notable achievements in human history. These magnificent man-made structures are so massive and detailed at the same time.

  • Have you ever wonder how this ancient society built the pyramids without cranes, bulldozers, jackhammers, and trucks?

They used simple machines!

pyramids of Egypt

Simple machines are all around you, from the lever on your bathroom faucet to the knives in your kitchen. Two or more simple machines can even be used to create the complex machines we use today.

Keep reading to discover examples of simple machines and gain an understanding of how they function.

Take a look at the capuchin monkey below.

  • What do you think is he doing?

Capuchin monkey

Capuchin monkeys are considered to be one of the most intelligent primates and are known for their innovative tool use. They use quartzite stones for a variety of tasks, such as cracking nuts, processing seeds and fruits, stone-on-stone percussion, and even displays of affection — female capuchins flirt by throwing rocks at potential mates!

Nothing beats the human race, however, in all aspects of development and ingenuity.

From the Stone Age to the present, our desire to develop new tools has been motivated by the need to make things easier and more efficient, thereby improving the quality of life. No matter how complicated our tools have become in the last century, they all began as simple machines!

What Is a Machine?

A machine is an object or device that does work and makes your life easier. It is able to reduce the amount of energy, power, and time required to complete a task maximizing output.

Machines come in many sizes and shapes. Some have moving parts, and others are uncomplicated. Machines can also be complex in nature when they encompass several simple machines.

What Are Simple Machines?

Simple machines are tools that make work easier. They enable the user to do more work in less time and with less energy.

There are six simple machines:

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

Explore the slides below to learn more about each:

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What Are Complex Machines?

Complex machines are tools made out of two or more simple machines.

Take a look at these common complex machines and see if you can determine which simple machines were combined to make them.

pair of scissors

  • Which simple machines are combined to come up with this useful device?

If you answered a wedge and a lever, you are correct!

A pair of scissors is two wedges that rotate around a fulcrum in a cross-shape.

fishing rod

  • Have you ever tried fishing using a rod and a reel?

The part of the rod that you hold serves as a fulcrum of a lever because it can move up and down. The reel that winds and unwinds the fishing line is the pulley. When you turn the handle, you also turn the axle which turns the wheel.

Simple Machines Are Ancient Technology

Our world today is full of technology that we often take for granted. It allows us to focus on things other than just surviving.

The earliest civilizations were concerned with things like building cities and surviving wars. Simple machines made it possible!

Historians believe the Egyptians used levers, ramps, and pulleys to build the pyramids. This is engineering at its finest! It is no wonder that these structures continue to amaze us today.

  • Do you want to learn more about simple machines?

Read About Simple Machines at Generation Genius or watch Simple Machines for Kids: Science and Engineering for Children - FreeSchool:

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When you are ready, move on to the Got It? section to review these six simple machines!

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