Simple Machines

An Art & Science Project
Built EnvironmentIntermediate


Second graders studying “Simple Machines” during a science unit used line printing tools to practice creating levers, inclined planes, gears, wheels and pulleys.

Smith College graduate student, Mimi Odgers developed this integrated science/art unit with Mrs. Hanno’s 2nd grade class at Bridge Street School in Northampton, MA. In this photo she discusses her project with the Teaching of Visual Arts class.


Is there anyone who can give us a definition or an example of a simple machine? What does a simple machine do?

A simple machine is a tool with few or no moving parts that you can use to help you to do work. It is a device that transmits or modifies force or motion. We use simple machines to make moving and lifting objects easier. Some examples of simple machines are the inclined plane, lever, wedge, wheel and axle, gears, pulley, and screw. These seven simple machines are used for transforming energy into work.

Ask children to look around their homes for simple machines and to bring in an example.

There are many sites on the internet for exploring simple machines. Here is one site that I found helpful.


Display some simple machines like scissors, screw and screwdriver, nutcracker, garlic press, press for lemons and limes, cheese cutter, and discuss how they work – how they use force and motion to accomplish a task..


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Variations & Extensions