Lesson plan


Investigate with pulleys to find out how they change the direction of a force, and how multiple pulley systems can make work easier.
Science content
Physics: Motion and Forces, Newton’s Laws, Gravity (K, 2, 6)
Physics: Simple and complex Machines (5)

A progression of activities that works well (with recommended substitutions):

Pulley free play, for students to understand how pulleys rotate to move rope through them, making the rope move more easily than without a pulley (way less friction). They will also show how a pulley can change the direction of a force. They will get creative with multiple pulleys and make their own systems.

Start adding more pulleys to show how they give a force advantage. Recommend measuring forces with counters, but could also just feel the forces needed to lift a water bottle.

End with a dramatic demonstration of how multiple pulley systems lift a heavy load.


Tyee: Pulley free play, Measuring forces in pulley systems (intermediates), then Pulleys to lift a heavy load
Suncrest: Pulley free play then Measuring forces in pulley systems

Grades taught
Gr K
Gr 1
Gr 2
Gr 3
Gr 4
Gr 5
Gr 6
Gr 7
Teaching Site
ingridscience afterschool
Suncrest Elementary
Tyee Elementary