This post includes an easy science activity for kids on simple machines: a guide on how to make a pulley with kids. This post also includes project-based learning book recommendations.
My sons enjoy simple building with blocks, with tracks, with Legos, with beans, with marshmallows, with straws, with rocks, with sticks…you name it, they like to build with it.
What is a Pulley System?
This science video for kids introduces a simple machine, illustrating how a simple pulley system works.
A fun educational video for kids that solves the problem of getting a telescope up into an observatory. You guessed it! Learn how a pulley system can lift heavy objects!
Pulley Facts for Kids
- Examples in our everyday world include blinds, garage doors, and even a flagpole.
- These simple machines have been around for thousands of years. The origin is not quite known but some historians believe that Mesopotamians used this simple machine to life water as long ago as 1500 BF
- Archimedes was an ancient Greek scientist known to have invented the pulley as well as other simple machines such as the lever.
- The biggest advantage of a pulley system is that it can double the strength applied to lift the weight.
- Other names for pulleys include a drum or a sheave.
What is Mechanical Advantage?
Types of Pulleys
The three main types include static or fixed pulley, moveable pulley, and compound pulley.
A static pulley is the most simple and has an axel that is stationary. In other words, it uses this axel and a wheel to redirect the force of a rope.
Next, a moveable pulley has an axel that has the liberty to move and is also used to redirect forces. In other words, with a mechanical advantage of 2, with one end of a rope anchored, a moveable pulley is able to attach a double amount of force to an object.
Finally, a compound pulley is a combination of a static and moveable pulley. An example of a compound pulley is a block & tackle.
How to Build a Pulley – An Easy Science Activity for Kids
When I came across the book Explore Simple Machines!, I had to pick it up. The book includes 25 fairly simple, accessible projects for children (and adults) to build in order to better understand the science behind the machinery behind the building and construction of structures and vehicles.
I also appreciate the history and key language behind these simple machines, adding context to make the learning for all of us long-lasting. The book discusses simple machines and explains this activity. We gave it a shot and thought we'd share with you.
Make a DIY Pulley with Kids
DIY Pulley Science Discussion
- Talk about how the container moves along the string.
- What causes the container to go faster, slower, be unstable, and so on.
- Also, notice the load the “pulley” carries. What does it do?
- Ask, how would it change with the material of the string? of the container? the strength of the magnet?
- How would the pulley be impacted by the weight/shape of the load?
- What type of load is easiest to lift?
Simple Machines: Project Based Learning Books
- Explore Simple Machines! includes loads of fun historical tidbits and projects easy to bring into your home or classroom.
- Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors is one of my favorites. A gorgeous book with loads of hands-on project-based learning activities for young children. The best part? The projects are accessible to parents in the home and teachers in the classroom.
- Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners is a keeper. I have earmarked this book. I love the straightforward tone of the author. Plus it is easy to read. A wonderful guide for parents and teachers.