"It’s So Simple"

Kimberly Baker-Brownfield Jacques Marquette Branch

6201 S. Fairfield

Chicago IL 60629

(773) 535-9500


Materials Needed:

Include each of the following activities in a separate medium-sized container.

Activity 1. Two sticks of modeling colored clay, plastic ruler, beans (pinto or lima).

Activity 2. One stick of colored clay, two large spools of thread (one without thread), a dowel (cut into two parts - one 4 inches and the other 10 inches), string (10 cm) and Hershey Nugget candy in gold wrappers.

Activity 3. Two medium-sized plastic solo cups, one sheet of laser copy paper (8.5 x 11), six balls of lemon drop hard candies and one stick of colored clay.

Activity 4. A small cardboard box, seven paper fasteners, an 8cm rectangular cardboard strip, 2-5cm cardboard strips, 4-3cm circular pieces of cardboard, glue, one-hole puncher and Hershey Nugget candy in gold wrappers.


Brainstorming, Guided Instruction. Cooperative Grouping and Discovery Learning

Before all activities begin, students should be given an imaginary scenario (on a 4x6 index card about different families. Their task will be to help the family solve their problem using only the supplies in their science boxes.

 The following is the story for Activity #1:

The Wee Davis family is rich. They have lots and lots of gold. One problem they have had lately is trying to fight off the Giants who come out of Monster Lake. The Wee Davis family is nice and would like to share their gold, but the monsters are mean and want to take all of the gold for themselves. Can you help The Wee Davis family fight back against the giants when they attack?

Teacher’s Solution:

Students must use the materials for activity 1 to discover how to make a lever that will fire beans back at the giants.

Teacher must allow discovery time and guide students to eventually place the ruler over one stick of clay (like a seesaw). Place a bean on one end of the ruler and create a person (using the clay) to jump on the raised end of the ruler to fire the beans at the giants.

Story for Activity #2

The Wee Jones family is planning to take a vacation. However, they are afraid that if they leave home, the giants will steal their bars of gold. The family would like to pick up their bars of gold and put them in the car to take them on the trip, but they are simply too heavy.

Can you help the Wee Jones family find a way to put the bars of gold in their car without using their bare hands?

Teacher’s Solution:

Students must discover how to create a pulley (using the materials given) to lift the gold nuggets.

First, glue the two dowels together to create a 90 degree angle (an upside down L). Place the unthreaded spool on the dowel suspended in the air. Place the longest dowel in the center of the spool of thread to make the pulley stand by itself. Next, place the thread, in one wrap, over the top of the suspended spool making a pulley. Tie one end of string in a knot around a Hershey Nugget and allow one of the clay people to pull the other end of the string.

Story for Activity #3

The Wee Adams family always seems to have a problem with the monsters of Monster Lake when they are trying to take gold from one side to the other. The monsters always steal some of their gold. The Wee Adams family is fed up and needs your help. Can you help the Wee Adams family get from one side of the lake to the other without having to walk in the water and risk losing their gold?

Teacher’s Solution:

In this activity, students must discover how to make an inclined plane.

Place the mouths of both Solo cups face down and spread apart. Fanfold the laser paper on the 11inch side (make 4 folds on both 11 inch sides). Place the fan-folded paper on the solo cups and slide your lemon drops from one side of the bridge to the other using the clay family you’ve constructed.

Story for Activity #4

The Wee Brown family just received word that a sick cousin must have an operation right away. He keeps getting bigger and bigger. The doctors say that he needs 12 bars of gold to cover the cost of the operation. The Wee Brown family will have to send the gold from their safe, but it will take hours or maybe days for them to unload 12 bars from their safe. They may also have to take breaks to regain strength while unloading. Can you help them find an easier and faster way to put their gold into the car and drive to the hospital before their poor cousin explodes.

Teacher Solution:

In this activity, students must discover how to make a bulldozer (lever) with the parts given or make a dolly (wheel and axle). Punch a hole in the center of each wheel and four holes in your box to make a place for the wheels. Use fasteners to lock them in place. Connect two - 4 cm rectangular strips to one end of the box and glue a vertical cardboard strip to each of those pieces. Connect another 4cm strip to just above the rear passenger wheel. Connect the longest strip (8 cm), using fasteners, to this strip (this part will be your lever). Now you can place the gold nuggets on your lift and pick up each piece to help the family get to the hospital. (Please call for further explanation if needed).

The second solution would be to have students create a wheel and axle (dolly).

Performance Assessment:

Teachers may assess student’s performance visually. Instructors may also develop a rubric based on how close students come to the teacher solutions given. Students who do not develop a simple machine are obviously not using their background knowledge and should be graded accordingly. Those students whose creations exceed the teacher solutions should obviously be graded higher.