We have successfully wrapped up our curriculum-rich five week Simple Machines class for elementary students. Children and their parents met us once a week for an hour after school in an outdoor space at the Museum of Ventura County in downtown Ventura.
Each class included an introduction to specific simple machines and multiple hands-on activities for participants. Simple Machines introduced to participants included pulleys, levers, inclined planes, wheel + axle, screws, and wedges. During the final class, participants constructed toys using simple machines, and brought in Rube Goldberg machines they made at home out of recycled materials. Each machine used a combination of simple machines that, ultimately, popped a balloon.
Our goal was to test out curriculum as we write "Simple Machines, A Curriculum Guide," for self-publication. We expect it to be available by this summer. This guide will include fourteen simple machine activity lessons. Each will outline activity concepts, inventory materials to gather, explain how to set up the activity, give directions for teaching, list relevant vocabulary, and document corresponding California State Standards.
Our hope is that preschool and elementary teachers, middle and high school science teachers, homeschooler educators, and science museum educators will find this curriculum guide easy to use so the enriching subject of simple machines can be easily taught, students will have a basic engineering knowledge, and children will be inspired to pursue the sciences.