Compound Machine Examples: Lesson for Kids

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  • 0:04 Simple + Simple = Compound
  • 0:37 Shovel
  • 1:06 Wheelbarrow
  • 1:33 Bicycle
  • 2:07 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Michelle Jones

Michelle has taught at the elementary level and has earned a master's degree.

People use machines every day to make work easier. Scissors and knives help cut things; wheels and ramps make it easier to move things. This lesson describes a few examples of compound machines.

Simple + Simple = Compound

Mrs. Jones has hired three boys to move rocks from a house down the street to the garden in her backyard. There are a lot of medium-sized rocks to move and the boys really don't want to move them by hand. They decide to use compound machines to make this job easier.

Compound machines are just machines that are made up of two or more simple machines. Simple machines include a wedge, an inclined plane (like a ramp), a screw, a pulley, a wheel and axle, and a lever. These tools are useful by themselves, but when you combine them, they can make a difficult job - like moving a bunch of rocks - very easy!


Instead of lifting the rocks by hand, the boys realize it would be much easier to pick them up with a shovel. Even though you are probably really familiar with a shovel, in that you'd recognize it if you saw it, it's worth defining a little more carefully. For the purposes of exploring compound machines, a shovel is basically a tool made up of a wedge and a lever. The wedge part scoops up the rocks, then when pressure is put on the lever (the handle), the rocks can be lifted up. This way, the boys don't have to use as much energy, and they can pick up more rocks at once!

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