The Simple Machines Playground Lab is a fantastic way to have students dive deeper into their exploration of simple machines through a super fun, hands on building lab. This lab has students create a playground structure that includes the six common types of simple machines: lever, screw, were, inclined plane, wheel and axle, and rope and pulley. I highly suggest students work in groups of 2-4 students. It is appropriate for physical science or engineering and can be adapted for multiple grade levels.
This lab includes everything you need to have a successful lab, minus the supplies. The only preparation you will need is to collect the materials prior to lab day. All of the materials listed are very typical craft materials so you shouldn't have trouble getting them.
The lab packet includes the following pages and could be given to students on paper or electronically:
(1) Direction page including a step-by-step checklist
(2) Planning page for students to work together to explore how they will successfully complete the lab
(3) Sketch page where students must sketch a plan for their playground structures
(4) Post-lab reflection page that ties in several simple machine ideas include systems, input/output forces, and the six types of simple machines.
This lab will require at least two class periods if you wish to use all pages of the packet. My students have always really enjoyed this lab and ask to take home their playgrounds afterwards to enjoy. I am always delightfully surprised to see at what students come up with and love to see the excitement they have while building.