Submitted by: Angela Watson

Grade Levels: 3-5

In this simple machines lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades 3-6, students use BrainPOP Jr. and BrainPOP resources (including an online science game) to explore a variety of simple machines. Students participate in cooperative hands-on learning activities to investigate different types of simple machines. They will also create their own simple machines during online gameplay and afterward using classroom materials.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Identify and define different types of simple machines.
  2. Recognize the uses of simple machines in real-world scenarios.
  3. Explain how simple machines make our lives easier.
  4. Create their own simple machine during online game play and using classroom materials.


  • Internet access for BrainPOP resources
  • Materials for simple machines centers/stations


simple machines, work, fulcrum, pulley, wheel, axle, wedge, lever


Preview the simple machines game from The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago and familiarize yourself with game play. In this game, students help a character named twitch collect spare robot parts that are scattered all over the Museum. Students assist Twitch in using the found objects to create simple machines that will help him solve challenges with a minimum of force. You can visit The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago's Simple Machines Exhibit Resources page for more information and ideas related to the game.

You'll also want to preview the BrainPOP Jr. and BrainPOP resources used in the lesson plan and determine how to adapt them for your students' needs. Plan out centers or stations that students can complete in groups so that they have the opportunity to explore each type of simple machine in a hands-on way. Some simple ideas can be found in The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago'sSimple Machines Activities PDF and in BrainPOP Jr.'s Simple Machines Lesson Ideas.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Show students the Word Wall vocabulary and talk about the meaning of the words displayed. You may want to have students suggest definitions in their own words, then click on a word to see the definition provided by BrainPOP Jr.
  2. Play the BrainPOP Jr. movie Simple Machines to give students an overview of the different types of simple machines. Ask students to recall all the simple machines they saw in the movie and talk about the functions of each one.
  3. Challenge students to find the simple machines hidden in the BrainPOP Jr. Search Game so that they can see how the machines appear in real-world scenarios. Extend student understanding by talking about places they've seen simple machines in their own homes, school, and community.
  4. Tell students they will have the opportunity to explore simple machines in an online game. Pair students up and give them 10-20 minutes to explore the Simple Machines game. Encourage students to apply information they learned from the BrainPOP Jr. resources as they play.
  5. Divide students into groups and have them rotate through stations to explore various types of simple machines. The stations could incorporate investigations from The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago's Simple Machines Activities. Other station activities could include watching the related BrainPOP movies (Levers, Inclined Plane, Wheel and Axle, and Pulley) and taking the accompanying quizzes or completing the corresponding activity pages.
  6. Allow students to revisit the Simple Machines game, either in pairs or independently. Afterward, talk to the class about the simple machines they created in the game for Twitch and in their stations. How are simple machines used in everyday life? How do simple machines make our lives easier?
  7. Assess student learning by having students take the BrainPOP Jr. Hard Quiz or the quizzes from the BrainPOP movies on individual simple machines.

Extension Activities:

Challenge students to create their own simple machines, just like Twitch! Provide a variety of materials for students to use or have students bring in items from home. Allow students to work cooperatively to build various simple machines and brainstorm ways to improve their effectiveness. Allow each group to share their favorite simple machine creation with the class. You may even want to take photos or video of students demonstrating their machines and have students write about it on a class blog or school website to share with family members and the community.