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Introduction: In this lesson, you will provide students with a quick introduction of the ideas of work and force. This foundation will allow ou to teach the important role played by simple machines to help use force to make work easier.
Curriculum Subject and Topic: Science—Simple Machines
Estimated Duration: 45 minutes
Grade Level: 3

Curriculum Goals: Ohio Academic Content Standards

Lesson Objectives: Students will


Accommodations for Special Learners

Setting the Stage

  1. Clear space in the classroom to slide the large wooden box across the room and to pull the wagon from one end of the room to the other.
  2. Have printed copies available or prepare a projector to display the word web for how machines help us work.
  3. Prepare a copy of the Working Smarter worksheet for each student.
  4. You will need to divide students into two groups for the initial experiment, and then into pairs for completing the Working Smarter worksheet.
  5. Students will need to have a page ready for their Unit Journals to discuss their learning during the lesson.

Lesson Activities

Actvity 1

  1. Prepare students by reminding them about the Bill Nye video they watched in the introduction discussing simple machines and work. Tell them that in this lesson, they will be investigating the concepts of work and force. Discuss with students that work is what happens when a force is applied to an object. For example, when they push on a door to open it or pull on the handle of their refrigerator, they are using forces (push and pull) to work.
  2. Divide the students into two groups to complete a simple experiment to explore forces.
    1. Have the first group work with the large wooden box. Direct students to take turns PUSHING the box across the classroom, and then back to the starting point.
    2. Have the second group work with the wagon. Direct students to take turns PULLING the wagon across the classroom, and then back to the starting point.
    3. After each student has had a turn, switch the groups.
  3. After students complete the activity, do a quick recap with students. Specifically address how students completed work using two different forces. Ask students to name the forces (push box, pull wagon).
  4. Have students prepare to work in their Unit Journals. For this entry, give students five minutes to write about whether they thought it would be easier to move several objects at one time pushing the box or pulling on the wagon.

Activity 2

  1. For the next activity, you will need to either provide students with copies of the word web for how machines help us work or the digital tools for projecting the web to share with students.
  2. Provide background to students by focusing on how machines can make our lives easier, like with the example of the box and the wagon.
  3. Work through the word web with students. Begin by calling on students to define work and forces for you. Then work through each of the branches of the web, providing students opportunities to add additional simple tools for each of the categories in the web.
  4. Have students break up into pairs to complete the Working Smarter worksheet. Allow students ten minutes to complete the worksheet.

Wrap Up

Call on students to share their responses for the worksheet. Then wrap up the activity by demonstrating pushing and pulling one last time with basic classroom objects.

Supplemental Activities: Extension and Remediation

Making Work Easier at Home: Direct students to make a list of machines around their house that they or their family members use to make work easier in their homes. Ask each student to find at least ten items and list them similarly to the Working Smarter actvity. Have them prepare to share the information during the next lesson period.

Assessment and Evaluation

You should assess students on the two following activites.

  1. Unit Journal Entry: Students should have noted that the wagon made work easier than the box. Discuss with students if necessary to provide the correct understanding.
  2. Working Smarter worksheet: Evaluate the students' responses to the worksheet. Again, provide feedback as appropriate for students.

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