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Simple Machines
Lab 3 - Wheel & Axle

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Part 1 - Step by Step

  1. InstructInstruct students to run 3 test runs of the car without the wheel and axle.
    • Students will need to start the Spring Car against a wall.

    Setup for Test Trials
    Setup for Test Trials

    • They should mark the starting line with a piece of tape and make sure there is a clear space for their car to travel. They will mark the place where their car stops with another piece of tape, then measure the distance between the two.

    Mark and Measure Distance without Wheel and Axle
    Mark and Measure Distance without Wheel and Axle

    • They will also need to use their Data Collection Sheet. An already set up Data Collection Sheet (Lab 3 Data Collection Example) has been provided in the Materials Needed section.
  2. ModelModel using a group’s Spring Car how to mark the starting line either against a wall or hard surface, how to make the car move forward, how to mark the stopping line, and how to record the measurement.

     Review steps:

    1. Pull then release.
    2. Mark stopping point.
    3. Record measurement.

    If necessary, review the animation to see how the Spring Car moves. 

    Video file


  3. FacilitateFacilitate as each group is conducting the investigation by ensuring that each group is taking accurate measurements. Praise students that are showing good teamwork and collaboration.
  4. RemindRemind groups that work is done when a force is applied to an object in order to move it. Work is made easier when the force needed to move that object is reduced.
  5. AskAsk students to think about what happened when the rubber band was pulled and released? Did they expect the car to move in the way that it did?

Mid-Play Break & Group Discussion

As soon as every group has recorded their Play 1 measurements, come together for a brief conversation.

  • What data did you collect and why? Consider the purpose of the investigation. 
  • Predict how adding the wheels will affect the distance traveled by the Spring Car. Will it travel as far?

Part 2 - Step by Step

  1. InstructInstruct each group to add the wheel and axle to their Spring Car and carry out the tests for Play Part 2.
    • Explain to students that they will use the same steps for testing the Spring Car that they used in the first part of the investigation, except this time their car will have the wheels and an axle.
    • Ask students to review the set up process that was used in Play Part 1. The process includes showing how to start the car on the starting tape against a wall or hard surface and then mark the stopping point of the car with another piece of tape.

    Set up for Test Trials with Wheel and Axle
    Setup Test Trials with Wheel and Axle

    • Ask a student volunteer to review how to mark and measure the distance travelled by the Spring Car in the trials.

      Mark and Measure Distance
      Mark and Measure Distance

  2. ModelModel the final look of the car once the wheel and axle are added. Point out that the students are adding a simple machine to their car.

    With Wheel and Axle

    Spring Car with wheel and axle.

  3. FacilitateFacilitate discussions with groups as they conduct their investigations.
    Classroom Facilitation
    Facilitate classroom discussions.
    • Encourage students to use vocabulary to describe their observations, such as work and force. 
    • Praise students that are using lab specific vocabulary words as they are discussing results of investigations. 
  4. RemindRemind groups that they are trying to determine how a simple machine, like the wheel and axle, makes work easier. Remind students that work is easier when the amount of force required to complete the task is reduced.
  5. AskAsk students to share their findings and draw conclusions. Did the wheel and axle make work (movement) easier? If so, how?