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Instructions 

When children are investigating how to move objects, challenge them to make a first class lever. Encourage the children to explore how far objects can travel depending on the placement of the fulcrum or the variation of the force. Optional: Adults can build a catapult with popsicle sticks, rubber bands and a plastic spoon, which children can use for further explorations (click link for more information).

Age

3 years and up 

Time and Place

⚙ Any time of day

⚙ Any time of year

⚙ Indoors

Materials 

⚙ A lever arm (e.g., paint stir stick or ruler)

⚙  An object to serve as a fulcrum (e.g., sponge, pencil, eraser)

⚙ Small soft objects to launch (e.g., pompom, eraser, cotton ball) 

                                   

Safety 

⚙ Supervise children at all times 
⚙  Launch soft objects only 

Play-based Context

Preschoolers were playing in the yard when one of them discovered that by stepping on one side of a wooden plank that was balanced on a wooden block, a toy could be launched off the other side. The educator joined the children and  together they built more levers to launch different toys

Questions You May Ask 

⚙ How can you use a [ruler, paint stir stick] and a [sponge, pencil, eraser] to launch a [pompom, eraser, cotton ball]?  

⚙ What happens when you press on one side of the lever?  

⚙ How can you make the lever launch objects [higher, further]? •How far can you make an object go if you press [harder, softer, slower, quicker]?

⚙ What can we use to measure how far your object traveled?

⚙ How can you change the design of your lever? 

Related Children's Books

⚙ Simple Machines: Wheels, levers and pulleys by David A. Adler
⚙ Simple Machines by D.J. Ward
⚙ Levers by Martha E. H. Rustad

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