Teacher Site Map
3rd Grade Science Core
USOE Science Home Page

It's So Simple!

I can do that! It's simple. How many times have you heard that in your life? People are always trying to find easier ways to do things. How do they do this? It's called BRAIN POWER. You have one so why not use it? Throughout time, men and women have been trying to find easier ways to do things. Why slave away doing something, when it can be done in a much simpler way? Today we have, can you guess... SIMPLE MACHINES! How many simple machines can you name? Try to name six.


Now try matching each picture above to the simple machine it represents. The simple machines include a wheel and axle, a wedge, a pulley, a screw, and a lever. Think of what you might use at school and at home that is a simple machine. Some of the objects you use can include more than one simple machine. Try to list at least one object for each simple machine. What did you include in your list?

Try It!


  • Chair (with a back support)
  • Table
  • Broom
  • Ruler


The table is the heavy object that you need to lift. Think about how you could do it. You don't want to hurt yourself while lifting the table, so what do you do? Make sure an adult is aware you are doing this experiment!

  1. Place the chair away from the table with its back positioned twelve inches from the table.
  2. Lay the broom on the top of the chair's back, with the end of the broom under the table.
  3. The chair and broom are your lever.
  4. Carefully push down on the end of the broom that is away from the table.
    • What did you observe?
    • Were you able to lift the table?
  5. Try moving the chair closer, and do the experiment again.
  6. What observations did you make?
  7. Move the chair still farther away.

Safety: Make sure an adult is aware you are doing this experiment!


  1. What difference does the distance of the chair to the table make?
  2. Which distance do you have to push hardest to raise the table?
  3. Do you have to use more or less pressure if the chair is closer?
  4. Do you use more or less pressure if the chair is farther away?
  5. How high were you able to lift the table?


Go out to the playground, and find a hopscotch board or use chalk to draw one. As you toss your rock or marker, you will have to pull up or lift your rock as you hop through the game. Try different kinds of markers, and find if some are easier to pull up than others.

Do you have blinds or curtains in your room? How do you open them? A lot of times you will have to pull down on a drawstring or cord of some kind. This will allow more light in the room. How much effort is needed to bring light into your room?

Think about the following questions:

  • Is it easier to push a stroller up a ramp or pull it up the stairs?
  • Is it easier to push a tetherball while playing or pull the ball to stop it?
  • Is it easier to push a swing or to pull it back towards you?

Whether you push or pull an object, you meet some kind of resistance. Simple machines just make doing the job easier.

The next time you raise a flag, think about how much simpler it is to raise the flag on a pole using a pulley than pulling your body up the pole and trying to make it fly.

In a science journal or on a separate piece of paper, draw two examples of each of the simple machines. Look around your house to see how many you can find. This will give you ideas to draw.


Download the plug-ins: Get Adobe Acrobat Reader, and Get Quicktime Player. (The QuickTime plug-in is needed to play sounds and movies correctly.)

Want to share photos of you or your friends doing this activity? Send it in an e-mail with the following information:

  1. The title of the activity
  2. The URL (Internet address)
  3. Your name.

Remember that no pictures can be used that show student faces or student names on it. 

Teachers should view the Teacher Site Map to relate Sci-ber text and the USOE 3rd grade science core.

Updated October 24, 2008 by: Glen Westbroek

Science Home Page | Curriculum Home Page | 3rd Grade Science Core Home Page | USOE Home Page

Copyright © Utah State Office of Education.