Mystery Boxes“How Do Simple Machines help us Do Work?”


Topic: Simple Machines (first lesson of the week)


Objective: Through out the week the students will understand how simple machines make work easier and create a mechanical advantage.


Materials:          Mystery Box 1

-        Wood box with a wheel and axle



Mystery Box 2

-        Shoe box with a pulley (string & washer)




1)     Ask the students: What is a machine? What do you know about machines? What do machines do? What are examples of machines? What is a simple machine? What is the difference between a machine and a simple machine?

2)     Show the students a common simple machine (examples: salad tongs or scissors). Ask the students: What does it do? Is this a machine? Why or why not?

3)     Bring out the mystery boxes. Explain to them that there is a machine inside the box that allows the outcome to occur. Have the students play with the boxes and write down their observations. (What do they see, hear, feel, etc.?)

4)     Have them work in pairs/groups and draw what they think is inside that can cause their observations.

5)     Have each group share their drawings and explain why they believe what they created will have the same outcomes as the mystery boxes.

6)     Explain to the students that over the course of the next week they will be learning about the 6 different types of simple machines. Their job is to use this new knowledge and try to build their own mystery box by the end of the week that has the same outcome as one of the original boxes. They will be sharing their boxes at the end of the week.