Levers and Pulleys Projects

  • Put the scale at the end of a class-2 lever (50 cm from the fulcrum).  Find out how much effort is required to lift the load as it moves from the fulcrum to the effort in 5-cm intervals.  Graph the results.
  • Put the scale 10 cm from the fulcrum of a class-3 lever.  Find out how much effort is required to lift the load as it moves from the position of the effort out to the end of the lever in 5-cm intervals.  Graph the results.
  • Create a diagram of a make-believe level system (it can be one or more levers).  Write an imaginative description of its use, name it, and draw it.
  • Use the half-meter sticks and other materials to build a multiple-lever system where one lever acts on another to provide a double advantage.  Compare the effort and load in such a system.
  • Assemble pulley systems that use a single and double pulley (two wheels), two single pulleys, and two double pulleys.  (You will need an extra long rope.)  Record how many different systems you discover and how much effort is required.
  • Get some heavy-duty pulleys and strong rope from a hardware store.  Find a place outdoors (tree limb, swing set, etc.) to secure a fixed pulley.  Rig up some different pulley systems and lift a heavy load like a bucket of sand or another student.  Use work gloves when you haul on the rope.
  • Research the other four simple machines (wheel and axle, inclined plane, wedge, and screw) and give a short report to the class.
  • A steam shovel is a compound machine made of simple machines - levers and pulleys.  Research steam shovels and other machinery, analyze them in terms of simple machines, and write a report.  Here are a few examples of compound machines.
  • backhoe
  • drilling rig
  • hoist
  • exercise equipment
  • crane
  • elevator
  • drawbridge

Use centimeter graph paper to graph the results of your investigations.

  • The number of supporting ropes (x-axis) versus the effort required to lift the load.
  • The number of support ropes (x-axis) versus the distance the rope is pulled.

Assemble a pulley system using two single pulleys that will give a 4:1 advantage in effort reduction.  Usually 3:1 is the greatest advantage obtained from two single pulleys.  The solution, called a Spanish Barton system, involves two ropes.

Set up a lever-and-pulley system in which a pulley applies effort to one end of a lever that in turn lifts a load.  Compare effort and distance.

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