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Playful Machines - Virtual

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Physics Volunteer Activities
Main Image
Physics Volunteer Activities
Activity Language
Grade
Time Needed for Activity

Students will explore and build examples of simple machines that are found on a playground.

Students will explore the three simple machines - wheel & axle, lever and inclined planes. They will build examples of these simple machines that are found on a playground. If time permits, they will also build gears, which are an example of a wheel and axle machine.

This virtual outreach activity is split into a pre-activity document - i.e., workshop overview and list of materials with preparation instructions for both the volunteer and educator, a post-activity document - i.e., extra information and resources for the educator after the activity, and a PowerPoint presentation with presenter notes to help lead the workshop virtually.

What You Need

This workshop uses materials that are accessible and found within the home. 

Activity 1a - Round-about (Making a Playground)

  • 1 piece of construction paper
  • 1 small, cut out circle on cardstock or construction paper
  • Scissors
  • 1 brass pin (or toothpick, short pipe cleaner, etc.) if the caregiver allows.
  • 1 regular pipe cleaner (optional)

Activity 1b - Teeter-Totter (Making a Playground)

  • 1 Straw
  • 3 Craft Sticks (or a rectangle cut out on cardboard or card-stock)
  • Scissors (can be reused from other activities)
  • Tape
  • 1 regular pipe cleaner (or two short pipe cleaners)

Activity 1c - Slide (Making a Playground)

  • 3 Craft sticks
  • 2 pipe cleaners
  • Scissors (can be reused from other activities)
  • Tape

Activity 2: Making Gears

  • 1 gear template (will need two gears) - Students can draw their own 2 gears using 2 different sized circles, a pencil, and 1-2 small circular objects.
  • Scissors (can be reused from other activities)
  • Tape (can be reused from other activities)
  • 1 sheet of foam (or construction paper, styrofoam plate, or cardboard)
  • 1 pipe cleaner (or 1 brass pin)
  • 1 pin (or a sharpened pencil) if the caregiver allows.

PowerPoint:

Pre-Activity Document:

Safety Notes

Ensure you are familiar with Let's Talk Science's precautions with respect to safe delivery of virtual outreach to youth. These precautions can be found in the manual for this activity. 

What To Do

Activity 1a: Round-about

  1. Cut out a small circle on the cardboard/cardstock. You can use a base of a cup to draw the circle.
  2. Push the brass pin (or alternative) through the centre of the cut-out circle. 
  3. Push the brass pin (or alternative) through a spot on the construction paper. Make sure it is not in the centre of the paper and there is room to attach more structures.
  4. Optional: If you have one long pipe cleaner, cut it in half so you have two short pieces.
  5. Create a criss-cross over the circle, using the two short piper cleaners to form the handles.

Activity 1b: Teeter-Totter

  1. If you have 3 popsicle sticks, tape them together. If you have cardboard/cardstock, make sure you cut a rectangle small enough so it fits on your construction paper.
  2. Cut 1/4 of your straw from one end.
  3. Tape the straw perpendicular, in the center and on one side of your popsicle sticks
  4. If you have one long pipe cleaner, cut it in half to make two smaller pieces.
  5. Thread your two short pipe cleaners through the straw.
  6. Place the structure on your construction paper sheet and tape the pipe cleaners sticking out of the straw to the end. 

Activity 1c: Slide

  1. If you have 3 popsicle sticks, tape them together. If you have cardboard/cardstock, make sure you cut a rectangle small enough so it fits on the construction paper. 
  2. Tape half of each pipe cleaner along the back of the popsicle sticks/cardboard rectangle. Leave the other half untaped.
  3. Now lean the rectangle on the construction paper so it forms a slide shape. 
  4. Bend the pipe cleaners and tape the other half of the pipe cleaners on the construction paper.

Activity 2: Gears (extension)

  1. Print out the gears template. Trace and cut out two gears on cardboard or cardstock (or draw and cut out two gears on a piece of cardboard or cardstock)
  2. Poke a small hole through the centre of the gears.
  3. Place the gears on a piece of foam. Make sure the teeth can touch. Tap them to the foam - we'll remove this tape later.
  4. Thread a small piece of a pipe cleaner through the centre of one gear. If this is difficult, use a pin to poke the hole first.
  5. Cut off and bend the extra ends of the pipe cleaner.
  6. Repeat step 4-5 for the second gear.
  7. Remove the tape and rotate your gears.

Discovery

Why Does It Matter?

Students develop an understanding of simple machines and the types of simple machines with real life examples. Students apply their knowledge by designing their own playground that incorporates simple machines, such as a wheel and axle, inclined plane and lever. Further, students also design their own gears. 

Why Does It Matter?

Students develop an understanding of simple machines and the types of simple machines with real life examples. Students apply their knowledge by designing their own playground that incorporates simple machines, such as a wheel and axle, inclined plane and lever. Further, students also design their own gears. 

Resources

Pre-Activity Document:

Post-Activity Document:

PowerPoint Presentation:

Resources

Pre-Activity Document:

Post-Activity Document:

PowerPoint Presentation: