CODE/MOE/UOIT Makerspaces Project

Lesson Plan:  Grade 4 Science and Technology:

Understanding Structures and Mechanisms (Pulleys and Gears)


Pulleys and gears change the speed, direction, motion of, and force exerted on, moving objects.

Pulleys and gears make it possible for a small input force to generate a large output force.

Science and Technology Curriculum Expectations:

OVERALL EXPECTATIONS: demonstrate an understanding of the basic principles and functions of pulley systems and gear systems.


3.3 - describe how one type of motion can be transformed into another type of motion using pulleys or gears.

Learning Goals:

“We are learning to…”

Create a system that has at least one pulley and one gear that work in combination to lift an object a minimum of 5cm.  Students will use a variety of LEGO ® tools to complete the task.

Success Criteria:  

“We will be successful when…”

What is required from our Machine ?  

-Something has to be lifted and put down again (at least 5cm from a resting spot )

-must include 1 wheel and axle system

-minimum of 1 pulley (string, elastics,wire)

-minimum of 2 gears      

Lesson Overview:  

The main objective of our lesson is to incorporate an aspect of our maker culture with our pulleys and gears unit.  Some basics on the fundamentals of pulleys and gears were given to the students and following this instruction, a fairly open task was given with specific criteria was given.  (see the link below)

Materials and Technology:  

This lesson encompassed technology from start to finish.  We began by creating a class created success criteria on the Smartboard (™).  Following this step, students were grouped and tasked with going through large containers of donated LEGO.  Their task was to take out any parts or pieces that they felt would work as a part of a pulley or gear system.  Next, groups were asked to come up with a plan as to how they were to incorporate the criteria into the system they were about to build.  This plan was then presented to the teacher for approval.  Following this approval, the groups got to starting with their plan.  It was at this time, that each group was given their own EV3 kit to use to work on the project.  Students were also asked to document their process using a Google Slideshow.

Assessment of this tasl may be done in the form of observations, anecdotal notes, self/peer assessment and/or a rubric/checklist of the final product.

LEGO EV3 kits, Smart board

Student Accommodations/Modifications:  

Lesson will be differentiated by:

  • Making groups based on¨ like¨ ability was key for this activity.  I found by doing this, the students were able to share in workload and all students worked well together.  With that being said, a couple of the groups needed some redirection as they got off task.  
  • After beginning the project, I also found that a couple of the groups needed a different starting point to get going as they didn’t have a starting point. This starting point looked different as groups had different strategies.  (Some groups needed an effective base for their machine, others needed a way to incorporate gears into the system)
  • For my student that is accommodated, I provided written instructions as well as oral instructions.  Also, I was sure to check in with this student on numerous occasions to monitor progress on the task.  

MINDS ON:  Getting Started

The activity began by having a brainstorm session where I looked at students’ prior knowledge of pulleys and gears.  From this discussion, students demonstrated some knowledge about where they have seen pulleys and gears in their lives.  (i.e. a clothesline, an elevator, flagpole, watches, DVD drives)  From here, I demonstrated how two gears of different sizes worked, for example, how many times will this gear turn in relation to the other gears.  Following this, student-developed success criteria was generated.  This was done with the help of leading questions.  (see criteria above in the Google Doc)  We were fortunate enough to have four EV3 complete sets so from this I was able to make six groups by deconstructing the EV3 sets.

ACTION:  Working on it

This task was very hands on for all students. The level of engagement was very high at the beginning.  Everyone worked together, coming up with a plan that would encompass the elements of the success criteria.  When the tools were distributed, engagement remained high and groups continued to work well to begin the task.  After 30 minutes or so, a few of the groups began to experience frustration.  At this time, I brought the groups in for a full class discussion.  At this time, we talked about what was going well, and where there were areas of difficulty.  I then showed a video of the machine that I constructed and they had the opportunity to see my model that met my criteria.  The next day, we reviewed these concepts and they continued to work on this again.  From here, groups were able to persevere and experienced varying degrees of success.  

CONSOLIDATION:  Reflecting and Connecting

This process began by another class discussion.  This was led by me and students individually shared A) what they found to be successful with the project and B) what they found to be areas of difficulty.  It was evident that all students had a clear understanding of how gears and pulleys were used to make their system work.  Following this, groups had a chance to share a Google Slide show that they had been working on throughout the duration of the project.  These slides included pictures, videos and key notes that were added as the students worked through the process.  I felt that this process showed a variety of methods that were used to get the assignment completed.  

Rockwood Public School—Renfrew County District School Board                                                                          Adapted from