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Simple Machines

Calculate ideal and actual mechanical advantage of the six simple machines

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Simple Machines

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What is a Machine?

License: CC BY-NC 3.0

A Rube Goldberg machine is a machine created out of a lot of simple machines. [Figure1]

When you think of machines, what do you think of? Robots? Computers? Cars? While, yes, all of those are machines, did you also know that things like inclinded planes and screws are also machines?

A machine is defined as an object or mechanical device that receives an input amount of work and transfers the energy to an output amount of work

A simple machine is a mechanical device that can be used to change the magnitude or direction of force.

What is an ideal machine?

Mechanical Advantage

Mechanical advantage is a measure of how much a machine amplifies force. Mechanical advantage is determined by effort put in and resistance to that effort.

Mechanical advantage comes in two flavors: Actual Mechanical Advantage (AMA) and Ideal Mechanical Advantage (IMA).

Distinguish between the two and explain how to calculate each one.

Simple Machines

Research the following simple machines, try to think of an application in which each machine could be used, and fill out the table below.

Machine What it does Example

Wheel and Axle

Inclined Plane


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  1. [1]^ License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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