Simple Machines Projects: Building Models with Food!

When I find that hands-on application activity that can allow students to demonstrate everything we’ve just learned, I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot! We were working on wrapping up our simple machines unit and I was trying to find the perfect simple machines project idea for my 5th graders.
I wanted to do something that was a little different than our usual review routine and I wanted to incorporate something hands-on and interactive. Luckily, my student teacher came up with an amazing simple machines project idea that was sure to engage our class.
For this review, students were given the task of creating as many simple machines as they could think of using a few simple materials.
  • 2 Oreos
  • 1 Life Saver Mint
  • A Few Pretzel Sticks
  • 2 Graham Crackers
  • 1 Twizzlers
  • 2-4 Fruit Slice Candies
The students were provided with a note-taking sheet where they sketched their design and labeled the type of simple machine they created. This helped ensure that they stayed on track during the activity and I could assess their work (since…as you know…I couldn’t see it all in the moment).
Our students were SO engaged and they never stopped creating. Usually, students will complete their notetaking sheet or handout and then they are raising their hand telling you that they are done and you are scrambling trying to figure out how to continue to engage them in the content. Not this time! Not one single student wanted to stop building their simple machines.
I love seeing my students work so hard and enjoy what they’re working on so much that they just keep thinking of new ideas and ways to approach the challenge.  As a bonus extension, I also challenged them to create compound machines at the end.
Of course, after the lesson, they were able to eat the treats and that made the activity infinitely better from their perspective.
Take a look at some of the simple machines they created below and grab the simple machines project freebie at the end of this blog post!
(excuse the awkward logo placement – it’s covering a student’s name)