Exploring Simple Machines

a WebQuest for fourth grade science
by Paula Markowitz
Lincoln Titus Elementary School, Lakeland Central School District
Introduction | Task | Resources | Process | Evaluation | Conclusion


The machines we use every day help to make our work easier.  This WebQuest will help you identify different types of simple machines so that you can invent your own machines. 

The Task

Your project will be to invent and build a simple machine that can be used in one of the following places: 
  • garden/farm
  • kitchen/restaurant
  • office/school
  • garage
  • on a boat
  • playground/amusement park


Visit each of these Web Sites to learn about simple machines and to get ideas for
your project.
Inquiry Almanac - Here you will find the names and descriptions of different types of simple machines.  This website explains how each machine works.
Dirtmeister's Simple Machines - Learn more about simple machines at this site.
Edheads - Explore the garage and tool shed and identify the simple machines found there.
Beacon Learning Center - Wally the working ant will be your guide to help you master important vocabulary about simple machines.

MIKIDS.com - You’ll find lots of examples of each simple machine at his site.

Inventor's Toolbox - Explore this site to get ideas for your invention. Use Gadget Anatomy to quiz yourself to see how well you understand simple machines.
Exploring Leonardo - Leonardo da Vinci was a famous painter, scientist, and inventor. Visit the Inventor's Workshop to explore some of his ideas.  Play Leonardo's Mysterious Machinery and try to identify the simple machines he used.

The Process

1.    Explore the websites listed under Resources.
2.    Prepare a short report that includes the following information:
        -Name the six categories of simple machines.
        -Explain how each of the six simple machines work.
        -Give an example and draw a diagram of each of the six simple machines.
        -Be sure to use the following words in your report:  force, gravity, motion, friction.
            Click here to view a sample planning page for your report.
3.    Choose one of the following places where simple machines are used:
        -on a boat
        -playground/amusement park
       Name five (non-electrical) machines that are used there.
       Draw a diagram of each.
       Label the machines that make up each one.
4.    Invent and build a new machine that can be used in the place you chose.
5.    Be prepared to demonstrate its use and explain how it works.


You can earn up to 25 points for each part of this project, for a total of 100 points.
Your written report will also be graded using the writing rubric.
Part of the Project Maximum Possible Points
Written Report 25
Diagrams 25
Invention 25
Demonstration 25

Take a quiz at the Simple Machines Learning Site.


By the time you complete this project you will be an expert on simple machines
and have a new appreciation for the machines you use.

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  Revised February 2009.
Based on a template from The Webquest Page