Simple Machines experiment: see how wheels & axles work


In Simple Machines, kids experiment with wheels and axles by sending a cyclist through an obstacle course. In this activity, you can see how wheels and axles work by getting outside and going for a ride together!

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Download and print the activity here.

You need:

  • bikes, scooters, or skateboards

See how a wheel and axle works!

  1. Ride bikes, scooters, or skateboards with your child.
  2. Notice which direction you’re applying an input force.
  3. Notice which direction you’re moving.

On a bike, the input force is applied in a circular motion, around and around as you pedal. The wheel and axle changes the direction of your force so you move forward in a line. With every pedal, you apply a strong input force over a short distance on the axle to move the wheel a greater distance with less force.

On a scooter or a skateboard, you push down on the ground to move forward. Again, the direction of your force is changed. But, the wheel and axle in a scooter or skateboard work in the opposite way a bike does. You apply a weaker force over a longer distance around the wheel and the axle turns a shorter distance with more force.

This activity was designed to further learning in the Simple Machines app. Find more activities to support your kids’ learning in the Simple Machines Handbook.