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Introduction: Lesson 2 moves from work and force to introducing the first of the simple machines to students. The first machine that will be discussed is the inclined plane.
Curriculum Subject and Topic: Science—Simple Machines
Estimated Duration: 40 minutes
Grade Level: 3

Curriculum Goals: Ohio Academic Content Standards

Lesson Objectives: Students will


Accommodations for Special Learners

Setting the Stage

  1. Prepare an area in your classroom to put together a basic inclined plane using a board and a stool or chair.
  2. Have available a book, block, or other solid object. Tie a piece of yarn or rope around the object for pulling up the ramp and lifting from the ground.
  3. Print copies or prepare a projector to display the inclined plane graphic for discussing how inclined planes can help us exert less energy.
  4. Make a copy of the inclined plane worksheet for each student.
  5. Students will need to have a page ready for their Unit Journals to discuss their learning during the lesson.

Lesson Activities

  1. If you feel it would be beneficial, reshow the inclined plane video from the Intro lesson to remind students about inclined planes. Otherwise, simply remind students that using machines can help us work easier and use less force.
  2. Either distribute copies or project the inclined plane graphic for students. Call on students to describe what they see in the graphic. Make sure students identify both a ramp and the stairs. Discuss with students that a ramp is an example of an inclined plane.
  3. Have students turn to a partner and discuss why ramps are used alongside steps.
  4. After a few minutes, take an informal pull of students by asking who thinks the ramp takes less work and who thinks stairs take less work. Point out to students that even though the ramp is longer, it is a much easier way to go up than steps are.
  5. To reinforce the concept, complete the inclined plane experiment. Hand out the inclined plane worksheet to each student.
  6. Have students one-by-one come up to the front of the classroom and lift the book or block straight off the ground. Then have each student use the string to drag the object up the ramp.
  7. Once each student has had a turn, set aside ten minutes for students to complete the worksheet. If students are struggling, encourage them to return to the inclined plane area and retry the experiment, like good scientists would.

Wrap Up

As students complete their worksheets, walk through the questions with them. Provide students an opportunity to share their ideas as you complete the review, but reinforce the idea of how inclined planes can help us work smarter, not harder. Finally, end the lesson by having students work in their Unit Journals. Have each student develop a list of other inclined planes they can think of.

Supplemental Activities: Extension and Remediation

Car Ramp: If time allows, or if students are still struggling to understand how inclined planes can help us work, provide students a Lego car or other wheeled vehicle to test out an inclined plane. Let students take turns pushing the vehicle across the car, markeing the distance. Then allow them to roll the same vehicle down the ramp. Which way did the vehicle travel farther? The inclined plane allows the vehicle to go farther with the same amount of force, making work easier.

Assessment and Evaluation

  1. Unit Journal Entry: Evaluate student lists of inclined planes. Provide feedback to edit or expand their lists.
  2. Inclined Plane Worksheet: Evaluate the students' responses to the worksheet. Again, provide feedback as appropriate for students.

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