Simply Unique

3, 4, 5

Through exploration, we see how six simple machines do their jobs together to get work done. Just as each machine is unique and valuable to the whole, so is each person unique and valuable to our group, to nature, and to the world. We see the value of deliberately respecting others and listening to the contributions of others for a strong community.

PrintOne 45-Minute Session
  • identify simple machines and their functions in our environments (lever, inclined plane, wheel-and-axle, screw, pulley and wedge)
  • demonstrate appreciation for the value of each member of the group through listening

gather several examples of simple machines and complex machines to observe the parts that move and do work: spatula, screw, can opener, ramp, pulley, pencil sharpener, ramp, door wedge, scissors, nail clipper, zipper, cookie cutter, potato peeler, wheels, levers with fulcrums, toy bicycles and cars

Home Connection 

Make a list of examples of simple machines found in your home, neighborhood, or school. Record as many as possible on the handout Simple Search.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    The world of work is made up of forces that push and pull. Reflect for a minute and look at things around you that move, including our faces and arms, and think about where there is a push or pull. Note: sometimes the pull is gravity.

    Display the names of the simple machines on a poster or white board: lever, inclined plane, wheel-and-axle, screw, pulley, and wedge

  2. Display several objects made up of simple machines and allow participants time to pick them up, talk, and look for the simple machines they are made up of. Talk about what is pushing and what is pulling. Talk about words like rolling, separating, joining, lifting, and lowering. 

    Use the Study Guide handout as a guide to analyze the functions of the simple machines. 

  3. Discuss how simple machines (the parts) work together for the purpose of the whole machine.

    Relate that concrete example to a more abstract concept of individual roles in a group being important to the common good. We are each valued parts of making nature and the world come together for the good of all. 

  4. Review the important elements of a working group that are like a well working machine

    1. Each group member knows their responsibilities.
    2. Everyone listens and respects the feelings of others.
    3. Take turns and accept ideas of others.

    Discuss why it is beneficial to the common good to have a cooperative group as opposed to an uncooperative group.

  5. Put the participants into two groups. Each group will plan separately to create compound machines using their bodies as the simple machine parts. They brainstorm possible sounds and movements (crank, lift, push, twist, bend) as well as a purpose for each participant (open a door, kick a ball). The group lines up in turn to construct their machine spontaneously. The first person will perform a sound and motion. The next responds to the first by adding a sound and motion. Together they form a machine, which may complete a purposeful action or simply create movement. The other group may be asked to name the action.

    Then the second group creates their impromptu machine.

  6. Reflect on the fun and function of working together. Observe the words and actions that helped the group work together.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.3 Recognize that citizens have a responsibility for the common good as defined by democratic principles.
      2. Benchmark E.4 Define and give examples of selfishness and selflessness.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark E.3 Describe a benefit of group cooperation.
    2. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark E.2 Discuss the importance of respect for others.
      2. Benchmark E.4 Demonstrate listening skills.
      3. Benchmark E.5 Identify the relationship between individual rights and community responsibility.
    3. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark E.8 Describe classroom behaviors that help the students learn.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.5 Give examples of actions students can take to improve the common good and list or describe responsibilities that go with those actions.