Oct 15, 2015

WonderWorks: Pulleys

Do pulleys really help us to lift heavier loads?

Today's Project:  Pulleys
empty spools
wooden dowels (or chopsticks or hefty skewers...)
heavy things (blocks, books, bag of flour, etc.)
rope or cord or string
pulleys (a variety, from the hardware store)

Today's book:
  cover art The Monkey goes bananas / Bloom, C. P.
(I'm actually fairly proud of this book as an option for pulleys.  Here's a photo of the pulley action:
subtle, but still totally there!

Where I found inspiration (or "what the kids were instructed to do"):
play with commercially made pulleys
make some pulleys with spools and sticks

 What the kids did:
played with the commercial pulleys

 (heavy stuff is hard to lift if your pulley is only attached to mom's finger strength)

made their own pulleys with spools
 tied objects to both ends of the rope and observed what happened if one was heavier than the other.

 made a pulley by just throwing rope over two sticks (tucking the rope between the sticks gave the option to apply the brakes in a particularly genius move!

 tried twisting the rope
 spun the spool on the stick across the table (yay, wheels!)
 wedged a finger into the pulley
 pulled a pet bag of flour across the floor
 picked "blueberries" (marbles) into a bucket.

 Hindsight tips:  This one was tricky because I couldn't connect the pulleys to any stationery objects (like the underside of a table or the ceiling, so the parents ended up holding the pulleys which affected how the pulley worked ("if I pull down on this string, my mom's hand also goes down just a bit and that's holding the pulley....").
Variations to try: 
use your pulley to pick things up
use multiple pulleys made of spools 
if you have a staircase or tree, this is a lot of fun!

Related app:
Simple Machines by Tinybop

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