Purpose: To produce an informational presentation on simple machines combining 2D and 3D graphics, animations, digital photos, and experimental data. This project requires students to integrate many skills. It is appropriate for a major portfolio project .
Created by SciVis Students at Southwest Guilford High School
click the camera to see the propeller work
Overview: Students will research the basic concepts of simple machines, design and conduct experimental calculations of mechanical advantage and prepare a multimedia presentation of simple machines and their experimental findings. This project will take 3 to 4 weeks depending on students' level of expertise with the software.
Scientific Visualization: Design and Problem
Solving, Applying 2D and 3D techniques
Science: Simple Machines
NC Scientific and Technical Visualization Objectives:
2.00 Apply problem solving and design concepts
2.02 Apply problem solving and design methodology
3.02 Apply the concepts and principles of computer file management
5.00 Apply 2D and 3D visualization techniques
NC Physical Science Goals and Objectives:
8: The learner will have an understanding of mechanics.
8.1 Demonstrate knowledge of work, energy, and power.
8.1.1 Conduct laboratory activities and experiments on work, power, and energy including how they are related.
Software: Possible tools are listed, the project will depend somewhat on what tools are available to use.
Power Point or other presentation softwareEquipment:
Corel Photo Paint
3D Studio (Autodesk)
Excel or Delta Graph
Digital CameraTeacher Background:
other equipment such as video cameras and video capture cards can be used if available
Simple machines lab equipment - this equipment could be borrowed from the Science Department or bought fairly cheaply
-spring balance to measure force
-set of measured weights or weights and balance
-various levers - scissors, nut cracker, bottle opener, ring stand and meter stick with holes drilled every 10 cm
-pulleys and string
-screw and screw driver
This project is large and well suited to group work. Group sizes of 3 or 4 work well.
It is essential that students convey conceptual understanding. Mere copying of definitions for work and mechanical advantage is not sufficient. Their presentations must explain concepts graphically. Although all of us use simple machines every day in a variety of ways, students need to develop their conceptual understanding. To do this they need concrete, hands-on experiences identifying parts of machines and measuring mechanical advantage. This is why the requirements for this project include collecting experimental data and the labeling a digital image. The information below will not replace hands on experimentation with simple machines nor study of a more in depth treatment of the topic such as would be found in a high school text book.
Simple machines are devices such as levers, ramps, and pulleys that make our work easier. They allow us to apply effort at one place to do work at another point and or to change the direction of a force. They do this in different ways. One way is to magnify an effort force so that a smaller effort can be applied over a longer distance thus moving a large load a small distance. Examples of this include a crowbar being used to dislodge a boulder, a nutcracker being used to crack a nut, or a block and tackle pulley system being used to lift a large weight. The mechanical advantage of a machine is the ratio of the load force to the effort force. The crowbar, nutcracker and block and tackle pulley system have a mechanical advantage greater than one. Other machines have a mechanical advantage less than one allowing a magnification of the distance and speed of a movement. An example of this might be a fishing rod or baseball bat. The six types of simple machines that your students should include in their presentations are listed below with some examples. Encourage different groups to use different examples for their experiments, graphics and animations.
inclined plane: rampStudents should design an experiment to calculate the mechanical advantage and efficiency for at least one type of machine. (High school physical science texts show a variety of experimental designs.) Mechanical advantage is the ratio of the load or resistance force to the effort force. Students can use spring balances and known weights to measure these forces. The ideal mechanical advantage is what could be obtained if friction were not a factor. It is the ratio of the effort distance to the load distance. By dividing the mechanical advantage by the ideal mechanical advantage the efficiency is obtained. The students should use their machine on a number of different loads. Then their data will consist of the effort force required to move each load as measured on a spring balance or by using the known weights. Alternatively they might use the same load with different configurations of their machine (for example different lever lengths or numbers of moveable pulleys) and show how the changing ratio of the distance the load moves to the distance to the effort force moves changes the effort needed.
wedge: ax, knife, zipper
screw: wood screw, corkscrew, screws on light bulbs etc., jar lids
wheel and axle: doorknob, bicycle gears, screw driver
pulley: elevators, window blinds
lever: the class of a lever is based on the relative position of the load, effort and fulcrum.1st class: crowbar, scissors
2nd class: nutcracker, wheel barrow
3rd class: tennis racket, tweezers
An important aspect of this curriculum is the presentation of technical data. Encourage students to present their experimental data correctly according to the guidelines for charts and graphs. (See Scientific Visualization Blueprint.) Students should prepare and present a data table as well as a graph of their data.
Text References and Resources
Physical Science texts:
Cuevas, M., and Lamb, W. (1994). Physical Science. Austin, Texas: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
Exploring Physical Science. (1995). Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.
Thompson, M., McLaughlin, C., and Smith, R. (1995). Merrill Physical Science. New York: Glencoe Division of McGraw Hill School Publishing.
Macaulay, D, (1998) The New Way Things Work CD-ROM (1st edition called The Way Things Work) DK Publishing (Dorling Kindersley); ISBN: 078943895X (available through Amazon.com)Data Presentation
Bertoline, G.R., Wiebe, E.N., Miller, C., & Mohler, J.L. (1997) Technical Graphics Communications. (2nd Edition) Burr Ridge; IL: WCB/McGraw Hill.
Design a visualization to illustrate the basic principles of simple machines to a 9th or 10th grade physical science class audience. You may choose to create a presentation designed for a teacher to use with a whole class or a module that could be used as a tutorial by a single student. Your visualization must show in enough detail that the audience will understand and could repeat an experiment that allows the calculation of mechanical advantage or efficiency.
Scientific concepts which must be covered:
Do not just define these concepts with words - use graphics to explain them!!!
6 simple machine types including all 3 classes of levers
Graphics requirements (minimums) :
8 2D static images ( 1 for each machine type)
one animation of a machine per group member
one digital photo image with inserted labels
one spreadsheet table and associated graph with experimental data
1. Set Up
Select a group leader. Turn in to teacher.
2. Develop understanding of your topic
Research simple machines and associated topics:
Use available books and other resources,
Use the equipment available to explore how each type of simple machine works,
Develop an experiment to calculate the mechanical advantage and efficiency for one type of machine with several different setups:
lever with different weight to lift or with fulcrum in different positions,
pulley set up with different numbers or sizes of moveable pulley
wheels with different gear ratios.
Carry out the experiment and record the data.
Develop a storyboard for your overall presentation. Turn in to teacher.
3. Plan your presentation
Develop a plan of action and divide up the responsibilities for your group.
List the group members and which part of the project each will be responsible for. Turn in to teacher.
4. Execute your plan
Set up overall slide presentation.
Work on graphics and and insert into presentation.
Work on animations and insert into presentation.
Take digital photo of a machine (preferably one used in your experiment), add labels, insert into presentation.
Insert the data from your experiment into a spreadsheet.
Design an appropriate graphical presentation of your data.
Insert the data and graphs into your presentation.
5. Review Your Progress
Your group should now preview your presentation as a whole making sure that it all works, fits together coherently, and meets all the project requirements. Make any needed improvements.
6. Present Your Project
Present the project to the class.7. Evaluate Your Work
Ask the class for their comments and suggestions.
Save your project on electronic media. Turn in to teacher.
As a group write a reflection explaining at least three strengths of your project, what problems you had to overcome to produce it and detailing what you would change about it if you could. This should be word processed and no longer than 1 page. Turn in to teacher.Due Dates:
Team Members: __________________________
Available Software: ___________________________
Available Hardware: ____________________________
Success will be measured by the following criteria:
|project planning, storyboard and group coordination||
|all six simple machine types included in presentation
wheel and axle
|graphics clear - easy to see and understand good choice of colors, appropriate backgrounds||
12 (2 ea.)
|effort and resistance distances clearly labeled and related to mechanical advantage.||
|concepts of work and efficiency explained graphically.||
|animations contribute to understanding how machines work||
|experimental data presented in table format||
|experimental data presented in graphical format||
|graph format chosen is appropriate for the data||
|graph appropriately labeled||
|digital picture labeled and included||
|picture contributes to understanding of machines||
|overall project (fits together, holds viewers attention, conveys science concepts)||
|presentation to class||
Possible extensions include actually presenting this to physical science classes, producing a CD ROM for Physical Science classes to use, developing a class web site on machines, producing an animation of a more complex machine, or studying color issues as related to rendering.
Link to Sample Project Top of Page Lesson Plan Menu
last update 5/11/00