Krieger Science Blog

A few ideas for home science education projects...

A Toy Crank

A "simple machine" made from a spool and a popsicle stick.

A Simple Machine

When discussing mechanics and simple machines with younger children, I like to have them make their own devices whenever possible. Here's a simple project, but one that kids seem to love — a toy crank. You can buy spools of various sizes, popsicle sticks, and craft knobs at craft stores, and then glue them together as shown with Elmer's glue or wood glue. Depending on the size of your pieces, you might want to use a whole popsicle stick, or break one in half as I did. For a cargo hook, you can bend open a paperclip, tie it to the end of a string, and then tape the other end to the crank spool.

A Toy Crank

When I first came up with this idea, I was worried that without a solid mount, kids wouldn't be able to have much fun with it, but I was quite mistaken. I just had my kids slip the spool over a pencil, and hold this "axle" in one hand while they cranked with the other, and they still loved it.