16 Aug

May 6 – NCHM at Work: Simple Machines

Block and tackle

What’s so simple about machines?

What is a machine? Many of us think of machines as things that do work for us, but we don’t often think about the machines that make our work go farther than it would on its own. If you want to lift a 200 pound weight, you could use your muscles (if you’re already really strong), or you could use a lever or a set of pulleys to make your work easier.

But rather than making our work easier this month, we went into the lab to figure out what makes simple machines work and to build a few models both large and small that we can experiment with.

Use the force!

History lab experimenters will be able to test their hypotheses on two full scale models of a first-class lever and a block and tackle (recommended for ages 10 & up or 6-10 with help from an adult or parent). We will also build our own force meters to investigate how pulleys, levers, and other kinds of simple machines make work go farther (recommended for ages 10 & up).

Weather permitting, we will also have croquet in the lawn. Bonus points for simple machines experiments who can guess what kind of simple machine is used to play croquet.