How I Use It
Simple Machines, by Tinybop, is a must have for teachers looking for a creative and innovative way to foster critical thinking skills within their simple machines unit. The app effectively displays how simple machines alter the magnitude or direction of a force. While using new vocabulary can sometimes confuse the student, this app provides snazzy models and displays how each machine works. The app includes all six basic machines including; the lever, wheel and axle, pulley, screw, wedge, and inclined plane. Students within my class use it as a way to investigate and make conclusions about different types of simple machines. This app works well in whole class settings, small groups, or even individually. At the end of the unit, students have a group project where they must create a complex machine to complete a task. Each group must combine their knowledge, and involve at least 3 different types of simple machines. This app allows groups to brainstorm and review the different types of simple machines easily. It also acts as a great visual reminder. For example, I had a very excited group wanting to use a lever to launch a marble and have it hit a few dominoes, however they couldn’t get the marble far enough. So without saying anything I gave them a tablet and 3 minutes later they were able to tell me that “we need to move the fulcrum closer to our payload, so that more force downward which will have the marble go further”.
Overall, this app is a great teaching tool. I love that through open-ended play, children get to explore the physics of motion that govern six basic machines. Its stylish approach easily attracts student attention, and its goals capture their curiosity. The game is simple to get up and running, and is easy for teachers to ask leading questions and get responses out of their students. Playing the game students will naturally begin to brainstorm, analyze evidence, create a hypothesis and finally make conclusions about simple machines. If you are a teacher that loves inquiry based learning, or even quick science lab, this app is perfect.