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Simple Machines

Simple machines make our lives so much simpler by helping us move objects around a lot more easily. There are six simple machines we use in our everyday lives. Can you spot any of these around you?

 

Ramp

No, it is not the fashion ramp we see on television. In fact, that ramp does not look anything like the simple machine! A ramp is a slanting surface that is used to slide things up or down. We see ramps all around – especially in loading areas and in airports and stations where people carry lots of luggage.

 

Lever

A lever is an inflexible bar or board that rests on a support that we call a fulcrum. Fulcrum is the support or point of rest, on which the lever turns in moving a body. A lever helps us lift heavy loads a lot more easily. A good example of a lever can be seen in our playgrounds – the see-saw.

 

Pulley

A pulley uses a wheel that has a groove(a cut or depression) in the middle to hold a rope or cable that is looped around it. These are great to lift or drop loads. What is interesting about pulleys is that they change the direction of the force completely. To lift an object up we need to pull downwards. Isn’t that totally cool? Pulling water from a traditional well is a good example of a pulley. Can you think of some others?

 

Wedge

This simple machine is made up of two inclined (horizontal angle) planes put together. The two inclined planes meet on one side to make a very sharp edge. Wedges are great at helping us chop things. They are also useful to hold things in their place. The most common example of a wedge is an axe or a kitchen knife!

 

Wheel and Axle

Yes, we see this in most things that move on land. A bicycle, a car, roller skates and even a train! A wheel attached to a rod or an axle that goes through it, helps us roll things around a lot faster!

 

Screw

From the time we were tiny we have been screwing open jars and closing them. The screw is actually made out of or uses another simple machine, which is the inclined plane. It essentially is a long inclined plane wrapped around a long rod or cylinder.  We use screws everywhere – to hold objects together and to drill big and small holes. We even screw on a light bulb and tops to keep them in their place!

This leads us to the explore question of the week. Elevators or lifts are able to move huge loads up and down great heights.

 

Can you think of which simple machine is used to help it move?

Expert Advice

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