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Lesson Plan: Teaching Simple Machines
and Newtonian Mechanics
David Vernot
Fairfield Intermediate School, Fairfield, Ohio


I sing the song The Sick Note (Why Paddy's Not at Work Today) to my sixth grade science
class as a part of our study of Newtonian mechanics and simple machines. I sing it with a pulley attached to the ceiling, partially demonstrating as I go. I have colleagues who have used the words as a poem and read it together with the class.

Then I distribute the lyrics with the assignment below on the back. The students enjoy
designing and sharing their solutions. In the future, I may challenge them to build a replica of their solution.

Using Simple Machines to Solve Paddy's Problem

Paddy had difficulty safely moving a load of bricks from the fourteenth floor to the ground. He used a fixed pulley, but neglected to consider that the force of gravity on the barrel of bricks was greater than the force of gravity on him.

Use one or more simple machines to solve Paddy's problem. Draw a diagram showing how
the setup would work. Then list a set of numbered directions. The directions must include the following information:

1. How to set up the machine or machines so that the system is ready to use.

2. How to use the system to safely move the bricks to the ground.

3. Enough detail that someone could follow the steps to set up and use the system pictured.

The solution may be simple or complicated. The important point is that the numbered
directions must fit the diagram and must provide a complete set of directions.

Have fun!

Many thanks to David Vernot, 6th grade science teacher at Fairfield Intermediate School, Fairfield, Ohio, for permission to display his lesson plan.

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