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Simple machines

A simple machine is a mechanical device that changes the direction or magnitude of a force.

They are the simplest mechanisms that use mechanical advantage to multiply force.

The term usually refers to the six classical simple machines defined by Renaissance scientists:

1. Lever

first order lever

second order lever

2. Wheel and axle

3. Pulley

pulley simple machine

4. Inclined plane

5. Wedge

6. Screw

screw animation by Tapolako

screw animation by Tapolako

A simple machine uses a single applied force to do work against a single load force. Ignoring friction losses, the work done on the load is equal to the work done by the applied force.

The machine can increase the amount of the output force, at the cost of a proportional decrease in the distance moved by the load. The ratio of the output to the applied force is called the mechanical advantage.

Simple machines are the building blocks of which more complicated machines (“compound machines”) are composed.




COSI Simple machines

Learning Standards

MA 2016

HS-ETS4-5(MA). Explain how a machine converts energy, through mechanical means, to do work. Collect and analyze data to determine the efficiency of simple and complex machines.

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