In this set of explorations, students are acquainted with the work of scientists who discovered the basic principles and applications of simple machines. Contextualizing this content into an applied situation, students explore how the human body is a simple machine and how prosthesis are designed.
Students learn about how Motola, a 44-year-old elephant, had to be fitted for prothesis after her leg had to be amputated because of a land mine injury. They learn about the challenges of creating and maintaining prosthesis for both humans and animals. Students explore designing prosthetic devices.
Students connect their prior experiences, such as hiking on mountain trails or walking up ramps, to the idea of inclined planes. By creating a “mountain”, they explore the relationship between incline and distance. Based on this experience, students gain understanding about the principle of the relationship of foce and distance.
The story of Archimedes and the lever offers students an introduction to simple machines. “Show me a place to stand and I will move the earth”, Archimedes declared. What did he mean? Using Levers, students learn how to move heavy objects a short distance with little force, or move light objects a long distance with greater force.
The lesson begins with a description of how rescue crews use pulleys to rescue stranded or injured mountain climbers. Students experiment with the pulley to see how a large weight can be lifted with a small force. Students record how much force is used to pull up various weighted objects and examine the data to draw conclusions about the relationship of force and distance.
Students use veterinarian syringes connected to plastic tubing to understand the application of hydraulics. Using pegboard strips and attached syringes, students can design working models of moving arms and legs.
Teacher and students review what has been learned throughout this unit. Working in small groups, students create models using simple machines and hydraulics to demonstrate solutions to problems faced by people with physical challenges. Students will then present their solutions to the class, using proper terminology to describe the process that they applied to solve the problem.