Strand IV
Use Scientific Knowledge from the Physical Sciences in Real-World Contexts


Science/Strand IV
Content Standard 3
All students will describe how things around us move and explain why things move as they do; demonstrate and explain how we control the motions of objects; and relate motion to energy and energy conversions. (Motion of Objects)


Science/Strand IV/Content Standard 3


Science/Strand IV/Content Standard 3/Elementary
Benchmark 4

Identify and use simple machines and describe how they change effort.

Benchmark Clarification

Simple machines enable people to do work with less effort. Students often are unaware of the simple machines they use every day.

Examples of simple machines:

  • Inclined plane: wheelchair ramp, stairs, ladder
  • Screw: vice, jar lid
  • Lever: can opener, baseball bat, shovel, hammer
  • Pulleys: flagpoles, blinds
  • Wheels and axles: wall mounted pencil sharpener, door knob
  • Wedges: door stop, pencil tip, knife

Students will:

  • Identify and use inclined planes, screws, levers, pulleys, wheels and axles, and wedges to move objects
  • Demonstrate a simple machine and explain in simple terms (easier, harder) how the amount of effort/force needed (more, less) has changed the work (easier/harder)

Key Concept / Real World Context / Instructional Example / Assessment Example / Resources


Science/Strand IV/Content Standard 3/Elementary/Benchmark 4
Key Concept

  • inclined planes
  • screws
  • levers
  • pulleys
  • wheels and axles
  • wedges
  • force
  • distance


Science/Strand IV/Content Standard 3/Elementary/Benchmark 4
Real World Context

  • block and tackles
  • ramps
  • screwdrivers and screws
  • can openers
  • see-saws


Science/Strand IV/Content Standard 3/Elementary/Benchmark 4
Instructional Example

Benchmark Question: How do simple machines change the effort needed to do work?

Focus Question: What are simple machines and how do they change the amount of effort needed to do work?

Small groups of students will cut pictures of common objects used as simple machines out of magazines, sort them into groups, and glue them on a chart entitled “Simple Machines.” Students will participate in substantive conversations regarding how the amount of effort (force needed) to complete the work has changed.

Each student will draw pictures of simple machines (inclined plane, screw, lever, pulley, wheel and axle, and wedge) found around the school and use technology to create a poster of the simple machine.

Extension: Students may research a scientist such as Maria Göeppert Mayer, Ronald McNair or Albert Einstein or any other scientist who is relevant to force and motion. Then, students can assume the identity of the scientist they researched and share with the class who they are, what they’ve done for science, and make a correlation between their work and simple machines.

Constructing: (SCI.I.1.E.1), (SCI.I.1.E.3), (SCI.I.1.E.6).

Reflecting: (SCI.II.1.E.4), (SCI.II.1E.5).



Science/Strand IV/Content Standard 3/Elementary/Benchmark 4
Assessment Example

The teacher will present pictures of simple machines or objects that are used as simple machines.

For example:

  • Inclined plane: slide, wheelchair ramp
  • Screw: pencil sharpener, twist-on cap
  • Lever: baseball bat, broom
  • Wedge: knife, scissors
  • Wheel and axel: door knob, AV cart, or computer cart
  • Pulley: flagpoles, blinds

Each student will prepare and complete a chart that includes the following information:

  • Identification of the type of simple machine
  • Explanation of the purpose of the simple machine
  • Description of how the simple machine makes work easier

(Give students rubric before activity.)

Scoring Rubric






Identification of simple machines

Identifies one to three machines.

Identifies four to five machines.

Identifies six simple machines.

Identifies six simple machines.

Accuracy of information

Information is inaccurate with many incorrect ideas.

Information is accurate with some incorrect ideas.

Information is accurate with a few incorrect ideas.

Information is accurate with no incorrect ideas.


Science/Strand IV/Content Standard 3/Elementary/Benchmark 4


Graham, Ian. Cars, Bikes, Trains & Other Land Machines. HOW THINGS WORK SERIES. Kingfisher, 1993.

Nankivell, Sally. Science Experiments with Simple Machines. Watts, 1966.