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Six Simple Machines – Definition and Facts

Jul 15, 2022

Overview of Simple Machines

Simple machines for kids can occasionally be hard to identify in real life because they diverge from the examples students encounter in the classroom. Simple machines are all around us, and we humans use these machines every day to carry out routine tasks. Since the dawn of human history, simple machines have been practised. Simple machines occur in six fundamental kinds; however, they can take many different forms:

  • Wedge: An object that pushes objects apart.
  • Axle and wheels: Tool used to lessen friction.
  • Lever: A device that pivots around to change the mechanical advantage.
  • Inclined Plane: Lifts items by advancing up a slope.
  • Screw: A tool used to raise or hold objects together.
  • Pulley: Alters the force’s direction.

What is a simple machine?

Simple machines are fundamental tools designed to aid in carrying out complex physical activities. The six most popular simple machines—pulley, screw, inclined plane, wedge, lever, axle, and wheel—are made to alter the force’s direction or strength (consider that work is equal to force times distance). Effective implementation of these simple machines makes the task easier. 


In today’s modern world, everyone employs some simple machines to facilitate their work. Now, the question arises, what is work? The force exerted on a body is multiplied by the distance that the body is pushed, i.e. work = force x distance. Work is therefore made up of force exerted and distance. A set amount of work is required to complete any job, and this quantity never changes. As a result, the quantity of effort is constant regardless of the force or distance.

It implies that a person must use a greater force to push something within a shorter distance. On the other side, if a person needs to push an object a little farther, they can use less force. This force-versus-distance trade-off, also known as the mechanical advantage, underlies all primitive devices.


With mechanical advantage, a person needs to exert less force all through the course of the job. Most probably, when a task needs a lot of force from a person, they see it as difficult. Therefore, the trade-off between force and distance can greatly simplify human tasks.

Six Simple Machines 

1. Wedge

The wedge is a common example of a machine that helps exert an external force on a vast surface area on the wedge to apply force, which is then amplified to a specific area on the wedge to conduct the actual job. A nail is a popular wedge shape with a large force-applying nail head area and a compact, concentrated force-exercising point. The nail can puncture wood because of the point’s increased force. The wedge-shaped nail point advances as it penetrates the wood, forcing the wood apart as it does.


Common everyday examples of a wedge are an axe, chisel, nail, jackhammer, doorstop, saw, horse plough, zipper, snow plough, bulldozer, zipper, airplane wing, fork, knife, and bow of ship or boat. 

2. Axle and Wheel

The axle and wheel are machines simple that help reduces the friction required to move an object, making it much easier to transfer. It is important to manage the force of friction when an object is moved to get it rolling. And once an object moves, the force acting on it is opposed by the force of friction.


It is made simpler by the wheel and axle, which lessens the friction that occurs when moving an object. The wheel rolls over the surface with as little friction as possible while spinning around an axle, which is effectively a rod that passes through the wheel and allows it to turn. 

Consider pushing a 9,000-kilogram (around 10-ton) concrete block. Wouldn’t rolling it along with logs under the stone be simpler?


Some of the most frequent examples of axles and wheels are cars, office chairs, motorbikes, shopping carts, wheelbarrows, roller skates, and hand trucks. 

3. Lever

A lever is a simple machines for kids consisting of a fulcrum, a load, and a force (pressure). Load refers to the object being moved or lifted. While force refers to the external pressure exerted on the object to lift or move the load, the fulcrum is the center point.


Force is applied on one end of the machine to create the same force on the other end of the machine (lever). The force exerted will either increase or decrease depending on how close or far the fulcrum is to the load and how far it is from the fulcrum to the force (pressure).

Common examples of levers include a crane arm, a teeter-totter or see-saw, a hammer (claw end), a crowbar, a fishing rod, and a bottle opener.


4. Inclined Plane

Lifting is made simpler on inclined planes. Consider a ramp. Ramps are a common tool used by engineers to raise items to new heights. An object can be raised in one of two ways: straight up or by being pushed up diagonally. The shortest distance is covered while lifting anything straight up, but it requires more force. In contrast, employing an inclined plane necessitates less force, but a person must apply it across a wider area.

Some routine examples of inclined planes include access to highway ramps, sidewalk ramps for people, switchback trails or roads, and inclined conveyor belts and stairs.

5. Screw

A screw is a type of simple machines with an inclined plane wrapped around a shaft. Screws serve two main purposes: keeping stuff together and lifting an object. A screw wrapping around the shaft makes it useful for keeping things together.

A person can remove the screw only by unwinding it because the threads have a strong grasp on the material surface, like teeth. An example of using a screw to lift something is an automobile jack. Along with this, other common examples of a screw included bolts, jar lids, clamps, a vehicle jack, spiral staircases,s and spinning stools.

6. Pulley

A pulley is a perfect example of a simple machine for kids used to change the force’s direction. Consider flying a flag or a large stone. Someone would need to apply a force that holds the stone up to lift it into position on a pyramid. One can raise the stone using a pulley composed of a rope and a wheel with grooves by pulling downward on the rope and utilizing the power of gravity. Even more usefully, the force required to lift an article can be decreased by using a system of multiple pulleys.

Examples of commonplace pulley applications include flag poles, sails, elevators, clotheslines, fishing nets, rock climbing equipment, cranes, window coverings like blinds, etc.

Machines Simple: Interesting Facts

  • Greek philosopher Archimedes is credited with discovering and describing the first simple devices.
  • The Egyptians probably employed the inclined plane to aid in the construction of the pyramids. They used the concept of inclined planes to lift the massive blocks to the peaks, making their work much easier.
  • Galileo was the first to develop a mathematical theory that explained how rudimentary devices functioned.
  • Practically every simple machine is used to create a more complicated machine like a bicycle.
  • In human history, the axle and the wheel was significant invention. The Sumerians employed it for the first time about 5,000 years ago.


So, what is a simple machine? These are the machines used by humans to make their everyday work easier! Simple machines are combined and used by engineers to create complicated technologies that simplify human lives! The ancient engineers discovered and designed these simple machines to erect the Colosseum in Rome and the pyramids in Egypt.

Modern engineers still use these simple machines in today’s era to erect bridges, skyscrapers, and roller coasters in the digital age. Wheelbarrows, crowbars, and highway ramps are simple machines that everyone uses daily.

Engineers consolidate several simple machines to build more complex tools like vehicles, bicycles, hospital instruments, and 3D printers.

Frequently Asked Questions 

1. Why do scientists use simple machines?

Ans. Scientists creatively apply their understanding of physics and maths to improve our lives by frequently employing simple machines in everyday life. They create tools that facilitate work. With the mechanical advantage of basic machines, they complete enormous tasks that would otherwise be impossible. To make much better and more effective use of existing natural ecosystems, they design equipment and facilities which use these simple machines to build complex ones.

2. What is a simple machine?

Ans. A simple machine is any of numerous devices with no or little moving components that alter motion and the strength of a force to do work. They are the most basic systems that have ever been found to increase the force by the leverage (or mechanical advantage). Some of the most common types of simple machines for kids are inclined planes, wedges, levers, pulleys, wheels and axles, and screws.

3. How can simple machines for kids make work easier?

Ans. A simple machine is a mechanical tool to alter the direction and magnitude of force. A constant force is exerted in a simple machine in the opposite direction to the force of the load, and the force is then employed to perform work on the load. By reducing the movement of the load, the machine can enhance its output force. The mechanical advantage of a simple machine is calculated as the proportion of output force to input force. 

As a result, the total amount of work that has to be performed can be reduced by increasing the distance over which a force is exerted, altering the direction of a force, or calculating the composite of a force and its velocity.




simple machines


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