GUIDED DISCOVERY LESSON
Force and Motion
Background: Students explore the mechanical advantage of a ramp by measuring the change in force required to pull a mass to the top of a ramp.
Students will construct a ramp using LEGO elements.
Students will collect data to compare the mechanical advantage to effort.
Students will make generalizations that they can apply to determine the mechanical advantages.
State Goal 12: Understand the fundamental concepts, principles and interconnections of the life, physical and earth/space sciences.
D. Know and apply concepts that describe force and motion and the principles that explain them.
LEGO elements (per group)
* 1 base plate
* 2 1 x 16 beams
* 2 1 x 12 beams
* 2 1 x 8 beams
* 2 1 x 6 beams
* 2 1 x 4 beams
* 1 2 x 4 brick
* 1 2 x 4 plate
* 2 connector pegs
* 1 bushing
* 1 weighted brick
Spring scale (250 grams or 2.5 newtons)
Ramp (ruler, paint stick, etc.)
To promote inquiry as to why things work the way they do and with the help of simple machines like the
The students will construct a ramp and make predictions and inferences by adjusting the angle of the
and using a spring scale to measure the force.
The standard axle position for the ramp will be set for data comparison.
The students will be encouraged to work in pairs for the entire activity recording information on their separate activity pages.
After the students have completed their three different trials for each ramp position have them record their data each
time to determine the most and least effort of the ramps, the amount of force used and the amount of force needed to lift
an object up the ramp.
The students will test their predictions, graph the effort of force for each position and will be allotted time to calculate the
The students will analyze and discuss their findings with the entire class. We will discuss the comparison of the mechanical
advantage to the effort, explore what the mechanical advantage tells us, the patterns in the graphs and allow the students
to go around to find other pairs that have similar and different graphs.
Assessment and Evaluation
The students will be observed by the teacher for participation points and their activity sheets will receive a letter