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Gears - Measuring

Name of Corresponding Unit Plan: Gears

Grade Level: K-8

VT Grade Expectations
VT S:5  Students demonstrate their ability to REPRESENT DATA by displaying and labeling data for separate trials/observations.
VT S:6  Students demonstrate their ability to ANALYZE DATA by interpreting patterns or trends in data.
VT S:7  Students demonstrate their ability to EXPLAIN DATA by poroviding a reasonable explanation that accurately reflects data.
VT S:21  Students demonstrate their understanding of Force by investigating variables that change an object’s speed, direction, or both, and identifying and describing the forces that cause the change in motion.

NY Standards
NY Standard 1: Mathematical Analysis
Key Idea 1: M1.1 Use algebraic and geometric representations to describe and compare data.
NY Standard 1:  Scientific Inquiry
Key Idea 1: Clarify ideas through reasoning, research, and discussion

Content Areas: Science

Recommended Length/Duration: 30-50 minutes

Learning Goals:

Students will identify the parts of different gear systems, measure their dimensions and calculate their mechanical advantage.


  1. This activity can be done in lab groups or as a learning center in the classroom.
  2. The teacher will present a variety of geared tools and how they work.  Determine if the purpose of the gears is to increase power or speed.  Identify the Effort gear and the Resistance gear.
  3. As an example the teacher will demonstrate how find and count the geared teeth.
  4. Review the worksheet and the data students are to record.
  5. Have students work in groups or individually to identify the parts of the gears, count the teeth on the gears, and record their data.
  6. Intermediate students should calculate mechanical advantage by using the formula:
    Resistance gear teeth / Effort gear teeth
  7. Students should answer the questions on their data collection sheet.
  8. When all students have completed the activity, the teacher should review their findings and discuss how the different gear systems are well designed for their purpose.

Assessments: Informal assessment based on participation and general understand of key ideas or more formal assessment of measurements and calculations.

Materials/Resources: Measuring Gears Worksheet (pdf); a collection of geared tools (can opener, egg beater, bicycle, fishing reel, etc.)

Special Considerations: Machines that are intended to increase speed rather than power will have fractional mechanical advantages.  Be sure students have the appropriate mathematical skills to work with fractions.