Simple Machines (SOL 3.2)

Students working with cubelets

Student working with cubelets

SOL: 3.2: The student will investigate and understand simple machines and their uses.

Key concepts include:

a)   purpose and function of simple machines;

b)   types of simple machines;

c)   compound machines;

Materials: cubelets, Legos (including, wheel/axle, pulley), 6 simple machine visuals

Simple machines are things like the lever, screw, wheel and axle, pulley, wedge, and inclined plane. Compound machines are a combination of machines. Students will use the wheel cubelets or the wheel and axle Legos. They can make an inclined plane out of cubelets and have cars roll up or down it. There are pulley Legos and they can build a tower out of cubelets and pull things up. Students will be able to identify the 6 simple machines and try to create simple machines on their own using Legos and cubelets.


  1. Teachers explain that students are going to learn 6 simple machines and try to create their own machines using Legos and cubelets.  Ask students if they know what a simple machines and if they can give some examples.
  2. Teachers will discuss the 6 simple machines using visuals.
  3. Students start trying to build their own simple machines.

Adaptations: If students appear to be struggling with ideas, diagrams have been provided to give them some guidance. Teacher will refer to diagrams.

Informal Assessment: While students are working, teachers will go around and see if student can individually identify what each simple machine is with and without using the visuals.

Challenge: If there is time introduce compound machines and see if they can create those too.


Teacher Reflection:  The diagrams helped the students. Diagrams were on the walls and some were on the tables in front of the students.  Breaking the groups into smaller groups helped with this activity.


Parent Letter: Today we went over Simple Machines and Compound Machines. We talked about the different types of simple machines such as the wheel, the pulley, and the lever. We then had the kids make their own simple machines with Legos and had them combine it with the Cubelets to make compound machines. Students could either build their simple and compound machines or they could use the ideas of the diagrams we provided.

Challenge: Simple machines are everywhere. Part of the SOL of simple and compound machines is the ability to know where they are in real life. While you are taking your child around town point out where there are simple machines; the wheel and axle on the grocery cart at the super market, a wheel chair ramp at school (inclined plane), the screws holding tables together, how a hammer can be used as a lever, how a door stop is a wedge, or how a pulley can pull up a flag on the flag pole.

This website is also a good site to visit for compound machines-