by Megan Mora Fuentes
Exploring the components and functions of simple machines is an excellent way to incorporate STEM into your homeschool curriculum, and is easily tailored to a wide range of ages. Check out this Homeschool Living for some projects and experiments featuring the six different types of simple machines, and add some hands-on activities to your homeschool STEM.
A great way to use these lessons over multiple grade levels is to assign different simple machines to your students–check out the links ahead of time to see which activities are best for your students’ ages–and have them conduct independent experiments and share their findings with their siblings.
Homeschool STEM Experiments
You can see examples of an inclined plane at work in ramps and slides all over the place. This very simple experiment uses a stack of books, a ruler, and a small ball to illustrate the function of an inclined plane. Get creative and use other materials to make smaller and larger planes, and experiment with longer and steeper inclines versus shorter and gentler inclines.
Levers are a fun component of hands-on homeschool STEM, and there are a ton of different ways you can create and use levers with items around your home. This lesson from Inventors of Tomorrow shares a variety of demonstration ideas and activities that you can use with students in all different grade levels.
In this lesson from Teach Engineering, you’ll experiment with using different wedges and a variety of materials, learn how simple machines like wedges were used in building ancient pyramids, and explore how simple machines are still used in engineering applications today.
Wheel and axle
This colorful wishing well craft is a fun application of a wheel and axle simple machine. It doesn’t require many supplies, and is a more unique way to demonstrate the wheel and axle in your homeschool STEM.
This pulley play activity is great for introducing the concept of a simple pulley to preschool- and kindergarten-aged children. You can even find everything you need for the project in your kids’ toy bin!
A screw as a simple tool has many different uses and applications–screws can move things, hold things together, transfer rotational motion into vertical motion, and more! This activity from Inventors of Tomorrow outlines the concepts of these different uses and offers some interesting resources for further study.