Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Simple Machines: Ramps

Oh, dear. We have a problem. We need to get those heavy blocks to the top of Mount Bookmore! If only there was a simple machine to help us!

Simple machines can make work easier for us. For example, have you ever tried to lift a really heavy book with just your index finger? (Don't use your weaker fingers--you could hurt yourself!) That book feels so heavy when you lift it straight up off the floor.

Simple machines to the rescue! A ramp makes the work much easier!

Now try pulling that heavy book with one finger. Doesn't it feel lighter? Of course, the book didn't get lighter. The ramp is helping us do the work. The book may weigh the same, but we can lift it with less effort. (Pugs find ramps exhausting, apparently.)

So, how will we get those blocks up to the top of Mount Bookmore? Oh, excuse me, I have just been informed that these are teeny tiny Egyptians trying to get stone blocks to the top of a pyramid. What will they do? They'll use a ramp, of course! And if they're really smart, they'll use some smooth logs, too.

But using one big steep ramp is awfully hard for those teeny tiny Egyptians. And the taller the pyramid gets, the harder they have to work to get to the top. How can they make the job easier?

Using more ramps! These ramps are not as steep, so walking up them is much easier. Of course, you have to walk a longer distance.

So, what have we learned about ramps?

They are a type of inclined plane. A "plane" is just a surface, and "inclined" just means that it's at an angle. They make it easier to move things. We use ramps all the time, like going down a slide or unloading things from a truck. A lot of building have ramps so people in wheelchairs can get inside.

What have we learned about simple machines?

There are six types: ramp, wedge, lever, wheel and axle, pulley, and screw. They help us do work. They help us get more done with less effort. Mom, are we going to do levers today? Well, when? Tomorrow? Can I use the ramps for my cars now?

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