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Simple Machines: A Dirtmeister’s Science Reporter Activity

What are simple machines and how do they make life easier? Students find out with this four-step activity hosted by the “Dirtmeister.”


3–5, 6–8

Activity Type

  • Activities and Games

In the Simple Machines activity (grades 3–6), part of Scholastic’s Dirtmeister series, students learn what simple machines are and investigate one used in their home, school, or community. With the help of science expert Steve Tomecek (the "Dirtmeister"), students learn to ask scientific questions, communicate their observations, and construct explanations of natural phenomena.


The four-step learning activity includes:

  • Investigate the Facts: Students get a tutorial on simple machines – how they work and how much energy they expend.
  • Observe & Record: Students observe a simple machine and write answers to five questions, including how their simple machine makes a job easier. 
  • Report Your Findings: Next, students expand on their writing into a complete report.
  • Read Sample Reports: For inspiration, students can read five examples of what other students wrote, including reports on an electric can opener, highway on-ramp, door knob, window-blind cord, and ice-cream scooper.


Learning Objectives

  • While participating in the "Simple Machines" interactive activity, students will:


  • Explore, observe, and describe the world around them
  • Understand how forces control events in our world
  • Investigate materials, organisms, and properties of common objects
  • Construct explanations of natural and man-made phenomena
  • Develop the ability to ask scientific questions, investigate aspects of the world around them, and use their observations to construct reasonable explanations for the questions posed
  • Ask questions about objects, organisms, and events in the environment
  • Use data to construct a reasonable explanation
  • Communicate their ideas to others
  • Develop their science knowledge
  • Learn through the inquiry process how to communicate their own investigation

Susan Cheyney

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