Simple/Complex Machines (Grades 3-5)
(may be adapted to other grade levels)

Rationale:  This activity builds on student interest, satisfies curiosity, teaches planning and research skills, encourages independence, allows work with complex and abstract ideas, and taps into high motivation.  The activity also allows students to work with appropriately challenging tasks, avoids work that is anxiety producing, and blends assessment and instruction.

DI Strategy:  Tiered Lessons and Independent Project

Differentiate What?  Process

Differentiate How?  Interest and Readiness

Resources: Various resources depending on student's plan to create simple or complex machine. Example materials could be wood, nails, screws, straws, coat hangers, paper, wheels, dowels, etc.

Teacher Preparation:
1.  Teach a lesson on the six types of simple machines, what a complex machine is and the purposes and functions of each.
2.  Create a list of vocabulary terms: work, simple machine, complex machine, wedge, pulley, wheel and axle, inclined plane, lever, screw, fulcrum, friction, push and pull.
3.  Give examples of simple and complex machines around the classroom (doorknobs, flagpole, door hinge, clock, door stop, ramp, pencil).
4.  Explain project sheet to the students. (More advanced students can create complex machines.)

Explanation:  Students will create a simple or complex machine to demonstrate the science concept of understanding the six types of simple machines.
1.  Pass out student project sheet. (See attached sample)
2.  Allow students time to research, (using various levels of books and other resources, eg., magazines, internet, videos, etc.) plan and create projects in and out of class.

Duration:  One week at thirty minutes a day for project (students may also work on these at home) followed by one week of presentations. This varies by grade level and student readiness.

Teacher's Role:  The teacher is able to circulate and assist as needed. The teacher may also assist students in making decisions about which tier is an appropriate choice.

Assessment:  Rubric (Sample attached)

Jason Cooper and Trish Kilcoyne
Hawks Rise Elementary

Editorís Note:  Display finished products on school morning news or in central area of the school (media center).

Make Your Own Simple or Complex Machine

Machines make our live easier by helping us with our work. A machine is a device that does work. It does work by moving an object over a distance using a force (push, pull, lift or pry). A machine can be as simple as an inclined plane or as complicated as a spacecraft.

Step 1:  Choose your tier:
    Tier 1: Create a simple machine and a short oral summary using appropriate vocabulary.
    Tier 2: Create a simple machine and write an expository paragraph using appropriate vocabulary followed by an oral presentation to the class.
    Tier 3: Create a complex machine and write an expository paragraph using appropriate vocabulary followed by an oral presentation to the class.

Step 2:  Build a simple or complex machine.  This machine should make your life easier at home or at school.  You may invent a new machine or make one that you already know about.  If a parent helps, describe on notebook paper the type of help you receive.

Step 3:  Write a paragraph and/or prepare an oral presentation that tells what your machine does and how to use it. Remember to use the vocabulary words you learned in class.  This step will vary depending on the tier you choose.

Standards to follow:
1.  Your machine must do some kind of work.
2.  Your machine must be put together well so that it does not fall apart.

Simple/Complex Machines Project Grading Rubric


____ It must make your work easier.

____ Your machine must be able to perform work without falling apart.

____ Quality appearance.

    Machine Grade ______

Oral Presentation:

____ Show how the machine works.

____ Describe what your machine does.

____ Use simple machine vocabulary words.

    Oral Presentation Grade ______

Paragraph (Depending on tier):

____ Tell what your machine does and how it works.

____ Beginning, middle and ending sentences.

____ Use simple/complex machine vocabulary words.

    Paragraph Grade ______