PS/IS 686 | Brooklyn, NY

3rd Graders are being put to “work” in Science!

Hello families!

Over the past few weeks and in the upcoming weeks, we will be getting  quite a “workout” in science. That’s because our current topic is work! In the Force and Motion unit, students observe that work happens when a force moves an object a certain distance. We are investigating how, when and why work occurs. We are also exploring simple machines that reduce the amount of force needed to do work!

Many of the activities we perform each day involve moving things. For an object to move, a force – or push or pull – must act on it. Whenever an applied force moves an object, work is done. Machines are tools that help us work by moving objects easier, faster, or farther. Some machines are quite simple, having just one moving part and requiring only the force provided by a human or an animal. T is these simple machines, and how they change the nature of work, that students will build and operate as they continue to investigate force and motion.

So far, we have observed friction, and how it makes work harder. We also started to use and operate levers this week, as our first simple machine! The students used a lever on Monday to lift a load and discovered the trade-off between force (or amount of effort required) and distance.

This upcoming Monday students will begin to:

  • Use a wheel and axle to lift a load and observe the transfer of force.
  • Construct fixed and moveable pulley systems and observe how they work
  • Measure the force required to raise an object using an inclined plane.
  • Explore more trade-offs between using simple machines

You can help reinforce the concepts of Force and Motion at home by:

  1. being alert to all the “work” your child accomplishes each day
  2. pointing out instances of pushing, pulling, lifting, dragging, twisting, pressing, opening, closing, and so on
  3. look for simple machines in your everyday life (they are all around us!!)
  4. taking your child to the library to check out some books on simple machines, or continuing to research specific simple machines explored in class

*For our final lesson, in a few weeks, we will put together a gadget gallery of household objects that make work easier. Any items you could loan to the class would be appreciated.

When I say, “Great work!!” at the end of the unit, I will really mean it 🙂

Video on Simple Machines

Activities for Simple Machines