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Simple Machines

Introduction to six different devices that make work easier by changing a force.

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Wonderful Wedges

Wonderful Wedges

Credit: Heron
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cutlery4pcs.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

What do the objects in this picture have in common? One possible answer is that all of them are eating utensils. Another possible answer, which may surprise you, is that all of them are simple machines called wedges.

The Back Story

  • Knives and other blades are commonly used as examples of wedges. But forks and spoons are wedges too. In fact, many objects that you probably use every day are wedges, although you may not realize it.
  • Credit: Sean MacEntee
    Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/smemon/12696333704/
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    The edge of the knife creates a cut in an object, and the rest of the knife becomes a wedge [Figure2]

  • Review what a wedge is and how it can be used by watching this brief video.


Can You Apply It?

At the link below, examine some other examples of wedges. Then answer the questions that follow.

  1. Describe a wedge and the type of work done by a wedge.
  2. Where is force applied to a wedge, and where does the wedge apply force?
  3. List each of the wedges pictured at the link above. Describe how each wedge is used.
  4. Look at the object pictured below. Does it contain any wedges? Explain your answer.

Credit: Moralist
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Assa-key.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

5. Each of the following garden tools contains a wedge. For each tool, identify the wedge and the work it does.

  1. Credit: Anthony Appleyard
    Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aa_shovel01.jpg
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. Credit: Dinkum
    Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Peasant_in_the_vegetable_garden.JPG
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  3. Credit: KoS
    Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Secateur_ouvert.jpg
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  1. List two examples of wedges not pictured above or shown in the links.

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