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# Simple Materials, Heavy Impact

In the Sid the Science Kid cycle called Simple Machines, all the activities are fun and they really get the boys involved. I get excited to do these investigations, mostly because I find myself saying things like “Let’s do that again!” or “Really cool, huh?” I think the boys like them too. What really matters is that we all get a kick out of simple machines.
This week we learned about inclined planes or slides in preschool language. The concept for the investigation was easy: fill a bucket with something heavy, ask the kids to lift the bucket to the top of a play structure, give them rope…supervised hilarity ensues. The boys and I enlisted the help of our neighbor and friend, Brayden. We had the rope and the bucket; Brayden had the rocks and climbing structure.

The boys would have been happy just playing with a bucket of rocks (what preschooler wouldn’t be?) but when I started explaining the task they jumped right in. I posed the question: How can you work together to get the bucket to the top of the play set? The first thing I had them do was try and lift the bucket up to top. No luck there!
Next, Brayden suggested that he could push the bucket up the slide to Henry, who was waiting at the top. As you can see below, it was quite a challenge!

Then, I gave the boys the rope. The rope was a bit too long and tended to get tangled, so if you are trying this at home you may want to measure it out first. Once the boys had the rope they talked about how to attach it to the bucket and how it could be used to pull the bucket. Brayden wanted to try pulling the bucket up the climbing wall. All three boys sat up at the top, I passed them the rope, and they tried to heave it up together. Great teamwork!

It was wonderful to watch Henry, Brayden, and Leo adjust their plans. Once they realized their collective strength couldn’t life the bucket to the top, the boys turned to the slide. We talked about the properties of the slide: smooth, high, slippery, and curved. The boys made a connection to how fast they can get down from the top via the slide…could it help them get the bucket up?
They gave it a try!

Success! All three friends were really proud of themselves. They were astonished at how much easier the task became when they used the slide. The bucket easily slid up while they worked together above to pull. I explained that the slide was an inclined plane and that the slide could be used a simple machine. A great concept that I am sure will be put to good use, as evidenced later on when Henry and Brayden tried to put Leo in the bucket and pull him up. Too bad Leo didn’t fit!
Although I am happy about the science concepts that the boys learned, I am even more excited about the collaboration that took place. I asked questions; all three friends listened and participated. They encouraged each other’s ideas and laughed through the successes and failures. It was nice to see.
As Henry and Leo moved on to a game of baseball, I noticed Brayden wasn’t done with his investigating. I think he’s ready to move on to the investigation about pulleys!

How do you little ones exhibit good collaboration skills? Do you think this activity would be a hit at your house?

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