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Inclined Plane - Lever Tools

Name of Corresponding Unit Plan: Inclined Plane - Uses

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
NY Standard 1: Engineering Design
Key Idea 1: T1.1 Initiate and carry out a thorough investigation of an unfamiliar situation and identify needs and opportunities for technological invention or innovation.

Content Areas: Science

Recommended Length/Duration: 30-50 minutes

Learning Goals: Students will identify the uses of different tools, how the tools are used, the parts that do work and the parts where effort is applied. Primary students will recognize that the length of the lever arm will either increase power or speed. Intermediate students will measure the effort and resistance arms to calculate 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 lever tools (crow bar, claw hammer, pliers, scissors, kitchen tongs, wrench, tire iron, etc.)
  3. As an example the teacher will demonstrate how to find the fulcrum of the tool, where the work is done, where the effort is applied.
  4. The teacher will point out that the effort and resistance distances are measured from the fulcrum to where the work is done or effort applied.
  5. Review the worksheet and the data students are to record.
  6. Have students work in groups or individually to identify the parts of the tools, measure their parts, and record their data.
  7. Intermediate students should calculate mechanical advantage using the formula: Effort distance / Resistance distance.
  8. Students should answer the questions on their data collection sheet.
  9. When all students have completed the activity, the teacher should review their findings and discuss how the tools are well designed for their purpose.

Assessments Informal assessment based on participation and general understanding or more formal assessment of accuracy of measurements and calculations.

Materials/Resources: Lever Tools Worksheet (pdf); A collection of lever tools

Special Considerations: Review safety precautions – be sure students understand and are able to handle tools safely.

Extension: Have students design a new tool that is an improvement on an existing tool for a particular job. Consider the quotation by Archimedes, "Give me a place to stand and a lever long enough and I will move the world." Have students discuss or describe in an essay what they think this means.