On a blustery November afternoon, Ms. Turi’s Holmes 3rd graders were huddled up inside working
diligently on, well, work. As part of their Delta Science unit, they are studying the force and motion we
use to get things done and the simple machines that help us do it. Geared Up, the Oak Park Education
Foundation’s LEGO engineering program, underscores the concepts related to work.
With Geared Up, kids use LEGOs to build many types of simple machines, such as levers, wheels and
axels, and pulleys. Ms. Turi’s students on this particular day were building pulleys. The students were
learning that each part plays an essential role in how machines work. When asked what he thought of
playing with LEGOs in school, Sean B. said, “Complicated. You need to find the right pieces. If you get a
wrong piece it could mess the whole thing up.” Sean and his partner Jalen D. did get all the pieces right — and built both a fixed pulley and a moveable pulley.
Together students read the Delta Science small book for each simple machine and go over the
vocabulary. Then before Ms. Junker [GU coordinator] comes in, students watch a demonstration of
the LEGO machines. Ms. Turi said, “Geared Up enhances the lesson in Delta Science by giving them
additional hands on experience with the concept.”
Meenah H. agreed, saying “It does help make the concepts make more sense.” For instance, the
students could see from both the demonstration and then from their own construction and testing that
the moveable pulley (in which the pulley lifts the load) was the easiest to operate, taking less force or
work to move. Caleb Y added, “It’s fun, but you also get to learn a lot.”
Using a push-pull meter, Ms. Junker demonstrated how with different configurations you can decrease
how much you have to pull but will have to increase the distance that you pull and vice versa. Will V.
said that “science is my favorite subject and the LEGOs part is my favorite part of the science.”
Ms. Turi’s class, along with third-graders throughout the district, will continue to participate in Geared
Up throughout the school year.
Click here to see photos from Ginger Yarrow.