When we study pulleys as a simple machine, our kindergarten age children make paper flags and these flagpoles which demonstrate pulley action – defined as a rope wrapped around a wheel, where when you pull down on one side of the rope the load on the other side goes up.
Supplies: a ruler that has holes at each end, 2 brads / paper fasteners (in the pictures, I use 2″ brads but smaller ones would be cheaper and look better), 2 sewing machine bobbins, 1 binder clip (1.5″ or 2″ gives more stability than a smaller one), string. [Those two links are Amazon affiliate links, but you may well have all the supplies you need for this at home.]
- Fasten the binder clip to one end of the ruler. Fold the legs up along the ruler.
- Put a brad through the hole in the bobbin, then through a hole on one end of the ruler, and fold its legs flat.
- Add another bobbin at the other end
- Wrap string around both bobbins and then tie it into a loop. Important: the string must be taut or the pulley won’t work well and the string might fall off.
- Decorate a paper flag. (Here’s a PDF of the template we use. We have the kids do their own designs, but you might choose to have them all do the same design, like school mascot or country flag.)
- Fold over part of the flag, tape it down.
- Then add small bits of tape to hold the flag in its place on the string.
- Test the pulley action!
Here’s a tiny 5 second video of the flagpole in action.
Credit where credit is due
I had some inspirations for this project: Miss Miller’s Blog uses a paint stick with 2 holes in it, and then things that she calls push pins and clear spools, but I believe are what I would call brads and bobbins. KiwiCo has a tutorial for a flagpole that uses a dowel and binder clips. It doesn’t technically have pulleys, but does have pulley like action.