Simple Machines: CKSci Teacher Guide


This unit introduces Grade 1 students to real-world examples and fundamental concepts of simple machines and their applications in devices that reduce effort. While Grade 1 students will explore levers, they are not expected to distinguish classes of levers. And while students will be introduced to the notion that multiple pulleys used in combination further reduce effort required to lift a load, they are not expected to quantify the effort nor comparisons.

Simple machines are objects or devices with few or no moving parts. They provide mechanical advantage in the execution of tasks by changing the direction or distance of the input force required to move an object. Simple machines make the human experience of work easier by changing the effort that a person must exert to perform a given task.

Over the course of the unit, students will determine how a simple machine changes the direction or distance of a push or a pull. That change makes the performance of a task easier for a person. Helping students spot the multitudes of ways they experience this (mechanical advantage) in their day-to-day lives lays the groundwork for engineering/design thinking and a problem-solving mindset as they continue learning.

Simple Machines provides students the opportunity to explore concepts that include the following:

  • Identify as simple machines the ramp (inclined plane), wheel and axle, pulley, lever, and wedge (and screw).
  • Explore catapults in a hands-on activity prior to reading about levers.
  • Interact with gears to observe the cause-and-effect relationship between the movement of one and, subsequently, several parts.
  • Engage in design thinking to apply what they have learned about the capabilities of simple machines in the design of a fun device that combines the functions of multiple machines.

This activity-centered approach requires, at times, that schools collect or purchase materials and equipment that will be needed to complete activities. Click here to see a complete materials supply list for Simple Machines.

Related Components

  • Student Reader: engagingly written text with many color illustrations, maps, vocabulary sidebars, and a glossary

Preview the Book

Download this CKSci Teacher Guide in its entirety in PDF form.


About CKSci

Core Knowledge Science™ (CKSci) is a comprehensive program covering life science, earth and space science, physical science, and engineering design practices.

CKSci Student Books offer engagingly written text with many color illustrations, photographs that presents scientific information in an ongoing phenomenon-based story. Student Books are designed to be read aloud by the teacher to the students.

Using CKSci in the Classroom

  • For Language Arts: You can also use CKSci to integrate content-rich nonfiction into your Reading/Language Arts lessons. Reading in the sciences provides background content knowledge that aids in reading across all disciplines.

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Paperback (spiral-bound)
8.5 in. W x 11 in. H

ISBN: 978-1-68380-588-5

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