First Gear

Build a Gear Model to master the basics of gears.

45-90 min.
Years 7-9 or Key Stage 3

Lesson plan

1. Prepare

  • Read through the pupil material in the EV3 Classroom App.
  • Collect information about gears that you can use to help your pupils understand concepts such as gear ratio, input and output gear and idler gears.

2. Engage (5 Min.)

  • Use the ideas in the ‘Ignite a Discussion’ section below to engage your pupils in a discussion relating to this lesson.
  • Divide your class into teams of two pupils.

3. Explore (20 Min.)

  • Have each team build the Gear Model.
  • Allow them time to do a test run to ensure that their model is built correctly and works as it’s expected to.

4. Explain (10 Min.)

  • Have each team perform the experiment using each of the suggested gear combinations, and record their results.
  • Make sure that they can create their own testing tables.

5. Elaborate (10 Min.)

  • Have your pupils analyse how the different gear combinations relate to the number of rotations and the turning direction.
  • Ask each team to briefly summarise the results of their experiments.
  • Don’t forget to leave some time for tidying up.

6. Evaluate

  • Give feedback on each pupil’s performance.
  • To simplify the process, you can use the assessment rubrics that have been provided.

Ignite a Discussion

Gears are all around us! Simply explained, gears are toothed wheels. Two or more gears in a train can be used to transfer force, vary speed and change the direction of rotary motion.


Start a discussion about gears by asking relevant questions, like:

  • What’s a gear wheel?
  • Are you familiar with any machines that use gears?
  • What happens to the turning direction when two gears have meshed together?
  • How is the gear ratio related to the number of teeth that are on the gears?

Building Tips

Building Instructions

Using the Model
Place the model on a solid and level surface. Make sure that both the gear pointer and the reference motor pointer are pointing upwards. Run the program and count the number of rotations by keeping track of the gear pointer. Both of the motors should turn precisely one rotation. The pupils will change the gearing of the right motor and use the left motor as a reference.

Running the Experiment
As they’re running their experiments, remind your pupils of the following:

  • In a testing table, record the experiment number, whether it’s geared up or down, the gear ratio, your prediction of what will happen, the number of rotations observed and turning direction. Make sure to leave space for recording other observations.
  • Perform the experiment using each gear combination.

Coding Tips


EV3 Classroom-Programs 2-2-program en-gb


Simplify this lesson by:

  • Helping your pupils to analyse how the different gear combinations relate to the number of rotations and turning direction of the gear pointer
  • Reducing the number of gear combinations that the pupils must investigate

Take this lesson to the next level by:

  • Encouraging the pupils to define a function that will predict the number of rotations based on the gear ratio
  • Challenging your pupils to modify the program for each gearing option so that the gear pointer turns exactly one rotation

Assessment Opportunities

Teacher Observation Checklist
Establish a scale that suits your needs, for example:

  1. Partially accomplished
  2. Fully accomplished
  3. Overachieved

Use the following success criteria to evaluate your pupils’ progress:

  • The pupils have understood how gears affect the turning direction of the driven wheel.
  • The pupils have explained how the gear ratio relates to the number of rotations of the driven wheel.
  • The pupils have learned how to calculate the gear ratio based on the number of teeth on the gear wheels.

Have each pupil choose the level that they feel best represents their performance.

  • Bronze: I’ve performed the experiments but haven’t predicted their outcomes based on gear combinations.
  • Silver: With some help, I’ve predicted the turning direction in the experiments based on the gear combination that was used.
  • Gold: I’ve used my understanding of gear combinations to correctly predict the turning direction and number of rotations in the experiments.
  • Platinum: I’ve used my understanding of gear combinations to correctly predict the turning direction and number of rotations in the experiments. I’ve also predicted their impact on the speed and torque of the driven wheel.

Language Arts Extension

To incorporate the development of language arts skills, have your pupils:

  • Create a brief report focusing on the results of their experiments and real-world examples of machines that use gears
  • Create a presentation explaining the results of their experiments and what they’ve learned

Note: This will require additional time.

The pupils who enjoyed this lesson might be interested in exploring these career pathways:

  • Manufacturing and Engineering (Pre-Engineering)
  • Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (Science and Maths)

Teacher Support

The pupils will:

  • Learn how to calculate gear ratios
  • Master the use of simple gear configurations

Science Programmes of Study: Key Stage 3 National Curriculum in England

Scientific Attitudes:

  • Pay attention to objectivity and concern for accuracy, precision, repeatability and reproducibility

Experimental Skills and Investigations:

  • Ask questions and develop a line of enquiry based on observations of the real world, alongside prior knowledge and experience
  • Make predictions using scientific knowledge and understanding
  • Make and record observations and measurements using a range of methods for different investigations; and evaluate the reliability of methods and suggest possible improvements

Energy Changes and Transfers:

  • Simple machines give bigger force but at the expense of smaller movement (and vice versa): product of force and displacement unchanged

Computing at School Progression Pathways

Programming & Development:

  • Creates programs that implement algorithms to achieve given goals. (AL)
  • Understands the difference between, and appropriately uses if and if, then and else statements. (AL)
  • Uses a variable and relational operators within a loop to govern termination. (AL) (GE)
  • Understands that programming bridges the gap between algorithmic solutions and computers. (AB)

Information Technology:

  • Makes appropriate improvements to solutions based on feedback received, and can comment on the success of the solution. (EV)
  • Uses criteria to evaluate the quality of solutions, can identify improvements making some refinements to the solution, and future solutions. (EV)
  • Designs criteria to critically evaluate the quality of solutions, uses the criteria to identify improvements and can make appropriate refinements to the solution. (EV)

Pupil Material

Student Worksheet

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