Early Simple Machines Set


Applying knowledge and skills related to structures, stability, measuring, and fair testing.

30-45 min.
Grades 1-2

The Problem

(5-10 Minutes)

Sam and Sara love to play in the backyard, but their swing is old and really not very good anymore. It is broken and whenever they want a good swing they keep falling off. Sam and Sara need a swing with a good, stable seat that they won’t fall off.

Can you help Sam and Sara build a new swing?


Design Brief

(3-5 Minutes)

Design and make a safe swing that:

  • has a seating space for one
  • swings as long as possible after it has been pushed

Fair Testing and Fun

(10-15 Minutes)

Can Sam or Sara sit on the swing?
Put Sam or Sara on the swing and see if it can swing.

Is the swing stable?
Can it swing without breaking and swaying?

How long does it swing after it has been pushed?
*Use a timer and test it. *


Extra Challenge

(10-15 Minutes)

For safety, build a fence around the swing.

Teacher Support

Students will be able to apply knowledge and skills around:
How movement can be described in many ways
How push and pull affect the movement and shape of objects
The framework of structures and how to make them stable and able to support loads
Solving problems from a specific design brief

Disciplinary Core Ideas: Physical Science

1 MS-PS2 Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions

Crosscutting Concepts
Stability and change

Science and Engineering Practices
Asking questions and defining problems
Developing and using models
Planning and carrying out investigations
Analyzing and interpreting data
Using mathematics, Informational and Computer Technology, and computational thinking
Constructing explanations and designing solution
Engaging in argument from evidence
Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics
Mathematical Practice

MP1 Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them
MP4 Model with mathematics
MP5 Use appropriate tools strategically
MP6 Attend to precision
MP7 Look for and make use of structure
MP8 Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning

Measurement & Data

Writing Standards
W.K.2 / W.1.2 / W.2.2

Speaking and Listening
SL.K.3 / SL.K.6 / SL.1.3 / SL.2.3 / SL.2.4