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Machine Shop (5-9) + CD
23 activities—184 pages
Students are naturally intrigued by how machines work and are amazed how simple machines allow them to increase their force. In Machine Shop, the mechanics of physics are revealed as students weigh each other using a seesaw, have tug-o-wars with pulleys, determine how bicycle gears work, and construct catapults and simple machines.
The underlying theme of every activity in Machine Shop is the conservation of energy. Students will learn first-hand that machines do not create energy to get work done, but they alter the factors of work, the force used, and the distance through which that force moves. The right machine can literally allow one to use his own limited strength to move mountains!
Students have fun while gaining understanding as they construct simple machines and then operate them to feel and measure the forces. For example, in “Sandbagging the Seesaw,” students are first asked to decorate a burlap bag before filling it with sand, creating a personalized sandbag character. Students then use their characters to balance a seesaw where another sandbag is resting a set distance from the seesaw’s fulcrum. The exploration has students discovering concepts of effort and resistance and the relationships of weight and distance as they pertain to the seesaw’s fulcrum. The experience creates a better understanding when equations are then introduced.
Machine Shop additionally offers teachers an opportunity to use a cast of five characters—Greedy Gravity, Fiendish Friction, Mucky Mass, Fantastic Force, and Handy MacAnnic—throughout the explorations. These friends guide students as they explore levers, catapults, wheels and gears, pulleys, inclined planes, wedges, and screws.
Teachers will also appreciate how this book relates the math to the measurement and the forces, and not just to the science. A wealth of integrated mathematics is offered in each exploration.