The Junior Room had a discussion about pulleys and what they are used for. We came up with two pulley systems that are used in our school: the blinds for the windows in our classroom and the flag poles outside. We thought up of other uses too, like construction workers lifting something heavy up onto a building site and children wanting to hoist something heavy up to their tree-house.
For this experiment, the children gathered their equipment: a rolling pin, some thin rope and the heaviest book they could find in the classroom.
Trigger: How can we lift this heavy book upwards with little effort?
Activity: The children worked together to design and make a pulley system which would be useful for lifting up heavy things. They tested out the weight of the book before beginning. Then the children tied the rope around the book and secured it with the help of their teacher. They used the rolling pin as the wheel and put the rope around it. Everyone had a turn at pulling down on the rope to lift up the book. It was great fun! The children experimented with pulley systems even further during their own playtime later that day!
Conclusion: It is much easier to pull down in the same direction as gravity.