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Simple Machines

In this worksheet, students will be looking at what simple machines do, what types there are and how they work to improve our lives.

'Simple Machines' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 2

Curriculum topic:   Forces

Curriculum subtopic:   Mechanisms: Levers, Pulleys and Gears

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Simple machines are what they say they are - machines that are simple! That means that they're not made with loads of complicated moving parts, like a drone, but with very few.

 

So, what's the job of a machine? Basically, it's to make life easier. That means that it must, somehow, multiply the amount of effort you put into a job to make it easier. So that means;

 

SMALL EFFORT/FORCE FROM YOU  → BIG EFFECT/FORCE FROM THE MACHINE

 

We're going to have a look at just three simple machines

 

LEVERS

PULLEYS

GEARS

 

Levers use some sort of pole or beam which pivots around a fulcrum. A see-saw is a really easy example of this.

 

Lever diagram

 

Basically, the further away from the fulcrum someone sits, the greater the force-effect they have. That means that a small child sitting at the end can balance their big brother/sister sitting near the middle. There are loads of examples of levers you use: door handles, spade, scissors, bike brakes, wheelbarrow and so on - all giving a big effect from a small effort.

 

Then there are pulleys, this is quite simply a rope or a cable passed around a wheel with a slot or groove in it:

 

Pulley diagram

The pulley changes the direction of the force, meaning you can pull down to lift a heavyweight. If you were on holiday at a house where your water came from a well, you'd pull on the rope to lift up the heavy bucket of water.

 

Finally, gears are made of two or more wheels with teeth in. These teeth slot together (or mesh) so that when one wheel turns, it makes the other one move.

 

Gears

When the larger gear wheel turns clockwise, it spins the little gear wheel in the opposite direction (anticlockwise) and a lot faster - that means that a small effort from you on the big gear wheel gets a big effect on the little one. Many of the gears you use are inside the machines they're in, so it's hard to see them, e.g. in a car, electric drill, radio-controlled toy, etc. But you can see the gears on your bike and you know that you use a 'low gear' to go uphill - large gear wheel = less effort from you.

 

Let's have a look at some of these machines in action.

 

Simple machines are all to do with forces - how much goes in and how much comes out.

 

What is the name of the measuring unit that we use to measure the strength of a force?

N

cm

kg

sec

Simple machines are called that because .....

They go fast

They are easy to make

They don't have many moving parts

They're cheap

Which one of the following force-related objects is not a simple machine?

Spring

Gear

Lever

Pulley

Which type of machine does this describe,

 

"A grooved wheel with a rope or cable that goes around it and makes the wheel move."

 

 

Write your answer in the box.

Look at this picture of two gears.

 

Gears

 

If the large gear wheel turns clockwise, which way will the small gear wheel turn?

Clockwise

Up

Anticlockwise

Down

Gears

 

Which of these two gear wheels will turn the fastest? Write one word in the box.

Here are some pictures of simple machines in use.

 

Your task is to match each one with the type of simple machine on which it is based.

 

 

Column A

Column B

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Gears
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Gears
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Lever
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Lever
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Pulley
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Pulley

A lever, like a see-saw or a weighing balance, pivots around a central point.

 

What is that pivot point called?

Centre

Fulcrum

Hinge

Apex

Here is a picture of a family playing on the see-saw in the park.

 

See saw

 

If Mum now gets on to the see-saw, instead of one of the children, where should she sit if they want it to balance?

Closer to the middle

Halfway along

Right at the end

Bang in the middle

Here are some window blinds.

 

Window blinds

 

They are worked by a pulley.

 

If you want to make the blinds go up, what should you do with the string that's attached?

Twist it

Pull outward

Pull up

Pull down

  • Question 1

Simple machines are all to do with forces - how much goes in and how much comes out.

 

What is the name of the measuring unit that we use to measure the strength of a force?

CORRECT ANSWER
N
EDDIE SAYS
Ok, so hopefully that was an easy question to start off with - Newtons (N) are the units we use to measure force. You can convert mass into force (of gravity) like this: 1kg = 10N. 'cm' are a measure of distance, of course, and sec(onds) for time.
  • Question 2

Simple machines are called that because .....

CORRECT ANSWER
They don't have many moving parts
EDDIE SAYS
Take a pulley: a moving wheel with a groove in the edge and a rope/cable that goes around it and it's fixed to something solid. Not many moving parts, so simple. Not that easy to make (you try!) but effective. A lever, like a door, won't be that cheap either.
  • Question 3

Which one of the following force-related objects is not a simple machine?

CORRECT ANSWER
Spring
EDDIE SAYS
Springs are dead useful, but not a machine. They don't convert a small force into a large one like, say, a lever does.
  • Question 4

Which type of machine does this describe,

 

"A grooved wheel with a rope or cable that goes around it and makes the wheel move."

 

 

Write your answer in the box.

CORRECT ANSWER
pulley
pulleys
EDDIE SAYS
Reckon that's a pulley then! Think of a flag up a flagpole: you pull on the rope which goes over the little wheel at the top and - hey presto! - the flag shoots up the pole!
  • Question 5

Look at this picture of two gears.

 

Gears

 

If the large gear wheel turns clockwise, which way will the small gear wheel turn?

CORRECT ANSWER
Anticlockwise
EDDIE SAYS
The way that connected gears work is that whichever way one turns, the connected one goes in the opposite direction. Look at the picture: imagine the big one turning clockwise - can you see how the teeth mesh with each other? It's going to push the smaller one round the other way, isn't it? That's anticlockwise. By the way, up/down doesn't describe a rotary (circular) motion, so that's not allowed as an answer.
  • Question 6

Gears

 

Which of these two gear wheels will turn the fastest? Write one word in the box.

CORRECT ANSWER
Small
Smaller
Little
Littler
EDDIE SAYS
The easiest way to check this out is to actually see it in action and, unless you've got some meshing gears to hand, that's probably best done through an online video. The larger wheel will make the smaller wheel turn many more times than it turns, so the little one goes faster.
  • Question 7

Here are some pictures of simple machines in use.

 

Your task is to match each one with the type of simple machine on which it is based.

 

 

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

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Lever
');" onmouseout="tooltip.hide();">
Gears
');" onmouseout="tooltip.hide();">
Lever
');" onmouseout="tooltip.hide();">
Pulley
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Pulley
');" onmouseout="tooltip.hide();">
Gears
EDDIE SAYS
Some easier than others? You might be surprised that a wheelbarrow is a lever - but it pivots on its wheel (fulcrum) and a small effort from you can lift a heavy load of soil. What about the lift - that works on pulleys raising a heavy load of people. Hopefully, this is starting to make sense.
  • Question 8

A lever, like a see-saw or a weighing balance, pivots around a central point.

 

What is that pivot point called?

CORRECT ANSWER
Fulcrum
EDDIE SAYS
The fulcrum is the point at which the lever rotates - it might be the hinges on a door, the screwdriver point under the lid of a tin of paint, the nut around which your spanner fits - these are all the fulcrums for these levers.
  • Question 9

Here is a picture of a family playing on the see-saw in the park.

 

See saw

 

If Mum now gets on to the see-saw, instead of one of the children, where should she sit if they want it to balance?

CORRECT ANSWER
Closer to the middle
EDDIE SAYS
Mum is heavier than the child, so if she sits at the same distance, her turning force will be greater. She needs to reduce the force-effect she is having, so she should sit closer to the middle - it'll probably require a bit of jiggling around to find the best spot. Now the small force of the child, further from the fulcrum, can balance out the larger force of Mum. By the way, 'halfway along' doesn't describe clearly enough where she should sit- it might not be halfway, but it'll definitely be closer to the middle than the end of the see-saw.
  • Question 10

Here are some window blinds.

 

Window blinds

 

They are worked by a pulley.

 

If you want to make the blinds go up, what should you do with the string that's attached?

CORRECT ANSWER
Pull down
EDDIE SAYS
To make the blinds go up, you have to pull down on the strings - they go over a little wheel/cylinder at the top, and as you pull down, it pulls the blinds upwards as the string is attached to the bottom of the blinds. Try it out for yourself at home!
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