Simple Machine Bird: Levers, Gears, and Birds! Oh My!


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Have you ever heard of simple machines? Simple machines are in every piece of machinery in a factory. They’re in your car, and many toys. But what are they? Simple put, simple machines are a way to make things move easier. For example, try pushing a heavy box full of textbooks from one end of the room to another. It takes a lot of work, hu? But give your box 4 wheels and two axels, and its a lot easier to move! My son’s recent Tinker Crate used two kinds of simple machines to make a bird fly!

Simple Machine Bird: Levers, Gears, and Birds! Oh my!

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My son opened his latest Tinker Crate box, and immediately pulled out the TinkerZine (a little book that comes in every Tinker Crate). He started reading and soon learned about all the forces on a bird, and airplane, during flight. He was already familiar about the forces from a book we had read a few years ago, but it was great for him to refamiliarize himself with lift, weight, drag, and thrust forces.





As he continued to read, he also learned about several types of simple machines, and how they are apart of everything that moves! To illustrate the idea, his Tinker Crate had him make a bird out of simple machines!

Building a bird wing out of Levers!

First my son built a wing of the bird using levers. Levers are a type of simple machine. A lever is a bar with a pivot point. The pivot point is called a fulcrum.

Check out the simple machine lever in action!




Moving Wings using Gears!

Another class of simple machines is gears. Gears are a great way to transfer motion or to change the speed of motion. The next part of this month’s Tinker Crate instructed my son two use 4 gears to move the wings of the bird.

First he connected two gears together by a shared shaft through the bird’s base. This made the gears turn at the same time.

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Next he connected another set of gears to the bird’s base. The teeth of both gears engaged, transferring motion from one set of gears to the next.





In the last step, my son connected the levers of one of the wings the gears. When the gears spun, our bird’s wing moved!

My son connected the other wing, and the rest of the bird. Now our simple machine bird could fly!

My son loved building his simple machine bird, and I loved it because it introduced my son to simple machines. Building the bird introduced the idea to my son that simple machines used together can be used to create complicated machines.

Have you tried Tinker Crate? We’ve loved each and every one of the boxes we’ve received over the past year and a half. If you’re curious about other boxes, check out some of my other Tinker Crate posts.

Exploring Polymers by Making Slime
Building Electrical Circuits and Playing with Light
Learning about Optics with Two Fun Light Experiments!
Teach Your Kid about Biomechanical Engineering
The Mechanics Behind Our Hands