Project Description

Simple Machines

Launch projectiles with D.I.Y catapults, watch motorised gears turn to speed things up, and lift friends off the ground with a super-sized lever. An engaging look at how simple machines make our life easier, now, and in the past.

  • Level: Available for Level 3 through to Level 6.

  • Duration: Available in a 90 minute format only.

  • Numbers: Each workshop can cater to a maximum of 30 children. However, smaller groups have better access to equipment and the facilitator.

  • State: VIC

Learning Outcomes

  • We invent machines to make our life easier.
  • Simple machines let us change the size and direction of forces, and are the basis of all machines.
  • The six simple machines include the screw, inclined plane, pulley, wheel & axle, lever, and wedge. Learn how each of these work to increase efficiency and reduce work.

  • Compound machines are two or more simple machines joined together.

  • The effect of lever length and a pivot point (or fulcrum) when lifting a load.

  • Work is done when a force moves an object over a distance.

  • Forces can be measured in Newtons with special equipment.

  • How cogs and gears interact to control speed and change direction. How different pulley combinations can reduce effort to lift or lower a heavy load. The more pulleys the easier the lift, but the lift takes longer.


  • Demonstration of various tools and compound machines that include simple machines.

  • Students work collaboratively in groups to investigate a real tool in further detail and discuss its features, how it works, and more.

  • Role play and demonstration of how a supersized lever can be used to lift a student (the load). How the pivot point or fulcrum is positioned to ease the load is explored.

  • Students create a machine that makes it easier to move a heavy load. They measure and record the force required to move the load after various changes to the design.

  • Students use motorised cog wheels, and gears on blocks to explore how gears work.

  • Impressive demonstration and discussion of a super-sized catapult.

  • Each student makes a catapult to keep.

  • Each student compares and explores two pulley systems.

Victorian Curriculum Links

  • Scientific understandings, discoveries and inventions are used to inform personal and community decisions and to solve problems that directly affect people’s lives (VCSSU073)

  • Forces can be exerted by one object on another through direct contact or from a distance (VCSSU064)

  • Use formal measurements in the collection and recording of observations (VCSIS068)

  • Compare data with predictions and use as evidence in developing explanations (VCSIS086)

NSW Curriculum Links

  • Describes how contact and non-contact forces affect an object’s motion (ST2-9PW-ST)

  • Describes how digital systems represent and transmit data (ST2-11DI-T)

Australian Curriculum Links

  • Scientific knowledge is used to solve problems and inform personal and community decisions (ACSHE083)

  • Forces can be exerted by one object on another through direct contact or from a distance (ACSSU076)

  • Consider the elements of fair tests and use formal measurements and digital technologies as appropriate, to make and record observations accurately (ACSIS055)

  • Compare data with predictions and use as evidence in developing explanations (ACSIS218)




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Very engaging activities and the entire session was full of action!

August 26, 2015

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Please pass on a huge thanks to Sophie for another awesome presentation last week. The group was quite challenging and Sophie handled the session very well, answering all of the girls questions and interacting with them in such an engaging and caring manner. The girls all had a great time.

June 16, 2015

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Gemma captivated the students from the beginning and maintained their interest. She was positive and genuine. Her level of knowledge was excellent and made for great conversation with the students.

February 2, 2016