Lessons about simple machines came alive for more than 100 third graders from Holmes Elementary this week during a field trip to the Oak Park Public Works facility–the culmination of a Geared Up residency provided by OPEF.

As a street sweeper rumbled to life, Geared Up Coordinator Gretchen Junker called out to the gathered students: “What kind of simple machines do you see here?”

The students called out in turn: “Incline planes!” “Gears!” “Pulleys!” “Wheels and axels!”

Oak Park Street Supervisor Tom Fulton led four classrooms of students around the spacious garage, demonstrating the sweepers, pile drivers, plows and other machinery. The students grinned and pointed as one worker rose more than 30 feet towards the ceiling in a “bucket truck” used by the forestry staff.

Holmes Teacher Michelle Anderson said all the third graders have had a chance to build and experiment with these simple machines by working in teams using special LEGO kits. She said this trip gave her students a chance to see all the big machine and trucks in action.

“Kids understand these concepts by doing, by touching,” she said. “My students love the LEGO lessons. They look forward to it and learn so much.”