Perhaps you don't think too much about using "The Advantage," but there's no way you can
live through a day without utilizing it in some way. No, we're not talking about a type
of computer, or a brand of clothing, or even a credit card. We're talking about mechanical
advantage—more specifically, about one of the most basic of all machines that makes
use of mechanical advantage: the lever.
Levers are everywhere. The light switch on the wall, for example, and the stapler on your desk.
You use levers when you shift gears on a bike and when you hit the brakes. A doorknob is a
type of lever. And then there's your body. Your body contains many, many levers—wherever
there's a movable joint there's a lever.
This activity is about the lever as a basic tool. The ancient Egyptians used levers in building
the pyramids. Although it is not known exactly how they erected the great obelisks, it's
a pretty sure bet that they used levers in some way.
In the following activity you're asked to lift one end of a relatively small obelisk three
feet. You have a lever, a movable fulcrum, weights, and supporting stones at your disposal.
Your goal is to lift the obelisk using as few of the weights and support stones as possible.
The Windows downloads are self-extracting ZIP archives: double-click the .exe file (sdzip9.exe or sdzip3.exe) to extract the Skydive mini-application
(skyd95.exe or skyd31.exe), then run the mini-application.
Non-Shockwave version of Lever an Obelisk
You can't play this version, but you do have
access to all of the activity's content.