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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Lisa was an excellent presenter and all the students had a fantastic time. Lisa did a great job of reengaging the students [when they got restless] for the remaining 10 minutes. A great show!

Concord School August 14, 2019

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Mad About Science Electricity session was amazing… I learnt plenty myself!

Mrs S February 12, 2018

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Fantastic instruction to students. Relatable activities that are easy for teacher to replicate. Simple activities with big WOW factor. Great opportunity for professional development.

Georgina Garner March 5, 2019