Did you ever spend an age looking for a resource to teach a particular area of the curriculum and not find what you were looking for? I did.
I couldn’t find a suitable, practical resource to teach about simple machines with my class of 30 pupils. As is often the case in these situations, I decided to design my own.
There are, of course, large scale, commercially available products, which contain hundreds, if not thousands of small, easily lost pieces that are a nightmare to manage in a classroom situation. These sets are also very expensive. The other difficulty with these sets is linking with the curriculum. Using the brightly coloured bricks and plastic pulleys jarred with the image of the Egyptians hauling 30 ton blocks to build their pyramids.
I wanted a resource that was designed with you, the teacher and your class of 30 pupils in mind. This meant that the resource had to be intuitive, easily stored, robust, suitable for group work and adapted to a real classroom and school furniture. A bonus would be if it could be used across the curriculum (mathematics, science, literacy).
After numerous attempts and spectacular failures, I came up with The Lévó and Henry’s Piano: a tool and a story book to introduce pupils to the maths and science of Simple Machines.
The Lévó is a wooden contraption that uses levers, pulleys and inclined planes to help lift Henry’s Piano. As the children read the storybook about the trials and tribulations of transporting Henry’s Piano across town and up and through the window of his sixth floor apartment, they investigate the simple machines used to facilitate the task.
At each stage of the piano’s journey across town, the children perform hands-on investigations using mathematics and science, and also literacy exercises to help Rosie and Rodney “work it out”.