Vote For Us – PBS Innovation Award


IST Grade 2 is in the running for the 2010 PBS Innovation in Teaching Award for our Simple Machine – Rube Goldberg Project and our attempts at connecting others to our little corner of the world at IST in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

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Reflection on Simple Machines


As our PYP Unit of Inquiry on Simple Machines comes to a close, we reflect on the learning that has taken place. Students have completed a summative assessment, reflecting on connections to our Central Idea and Key Concepts. Below are some of the student’s responses:

Our Central Idea for Simple Machines:

“Simple machines are used to move objects in different ways and influence our daily lives.”

Our Key Concepts for Simple Machines:

Form: What is a simple machine?

“A simple machine is a tool that makes work and people’s lives easier.”

“Simple machines cut things (wedge), hold things together (screw) and make things go up and down easier (inclined plane, screw, pulley, wheel and axle).”

Function: How do simple machines work? What happens when they work together?

“A wheel is really a few levers put together and the axle is the fulcrum.”

“Scissors are levers that work together. In between there is a fulcrum.”

“A screw is an inclined plane that is twisted. Using more than one pulley can make lifting heavy things easier.”

A compound machine is a machine that is made up of two or more simple machines.

“A wagon is an example of a compound machine because it has four wheels, two axles and a lever with the fulcrum at the hinge so that you can pull it.”

Connection: How do simple machines affect our daily lives?

“All simple machines make work and life easier for us.”

“A crowbar is a lever, it makes work easier so that you can lift things.”

“A knife is a wedge. The wedge has to be sharp to be able to cut.”

“If you are camping in the woods, you would use a wedge to cut fire wood.”

Reflection: What evidence have we collected to support this idea?

Students actively participated in learning both at school and at home. Students found many examples of simple machines being used everyday. Many students also chose to participate in this year’s IST Grade 2 Rube Goldberg Challenge!

Students submitted pictures, videos and projects. Mr. McKillip put together the following video to demonstrate the student learning that has taken place this term. Students participated in many different ways; hands-on classroom experiments, IST Campus simple machine scavenger hunt, computer lab games and experiments AND many students contributed home video footage from the IST Rube Goldberg Challenge (also included in this video).

We hope that you enjoyed our presentation. IST Grade 2



After many experiments using simple machines, the Grade 2s soon became experts. When it was time to study about levers, they were all able to predict that the lever would help to lift things. But they were not sure what role a fulcrum played.

The first group used a ruler as a lever and a large block for the fulcrum. The placed a load on one end of the lever, and the fulcrum was close to the load. They then set out to see how much ‘effort’ was needed to lift the load. They soon learnt, they did not need a lot of effort.

The second group used the same tools for the lever and fulcrum. This time the fulcrum was placed in the middle of the lever. They noticed that they required more effort than the first group.

The third group copied the experiment, making one major change. Their fulcrum was placed on the other end of the lever, far away from the load. They piled on over 25 blocks, and the load would still not move. By the time 30 blocks were piled, it got wobbly, and fell over, before their load had been lifted.

“I learnt that the fulcrum helps you lift things when using a lever,” said Tara.

So it is possible to learn something new about Simple Machines!