You are here

Pre-engineering students turn simple machines into complex contraptions

Students in a pre-engineering class at Metcalf Junior High in Burnsville faced a challenge: create a complicated contraption that runs for at least one minute and includes six simple machines.


In the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) class unit on applied physics, students learned about potential and kinetic energy by designing, building and testing a device.

“It’s impressive what they come up with,” said their teacher Steve Brady. “They realize that what’s on paper doesn’t always work the way they planned, but then they adjust and make changes and get it going.”

Students worked collaboratively in groups to use higher-level thinking skills to create their machines. Their projects were required to include simple machines like wheel and axle, inclined plane, screw, levers, wedge and pulley. Students could use lumber, tubing, hot glue guns, marbles, mouse traps, dominoes, batteries, magnets and more. Extra points went to students who added pizazz like lights flashing, balloons popping or glitter bursts.

The PLTW approach is based on active learning, creating real-world projects and creatively solving problems. In addition to this physics unit, the class covers applied chemistry, nanotechnology, electricity and electronics.

Posted: Friday, December 11, 2015 - 15:53