Engage & Learn

Lesson Plan: Simple Pulleys and Theatrical “Work”

In this activity the students will explore the use and benefits of pulleys and pulley systems through inquiry. The students will apply this knowledge to real world uses in theatrical environments. Students will also explore the flying pulley systems and compare/contrast them with basic pendulums.

How do simple pulleys help us do work and how are they used in the theatrical environment?

1. Students will predict the relative forces needed to raise a mass using various pulley systems.
2. Students will design simple experiments to test their hypotheses.
3. Students will be able to explain the difference between mass and newton force.
4. Students will be able to explain the difference between newton force and work.
5. Students will be able define “controlled variable” and state the importance of controlled variables in experimental designs.
6. Students will draw connections between the lab pulleys and those that are used in theatrical productions.

Students will experiment with simple pulley configurations and make predictions about the effects of these pulleys on force needed to raise a mass. Students will use this knowledge to ask additional questions and design simple experiments to test their hypostheses. Through this process student will gain understanding of the concepts of Mass, Weight, Newton Force, and Work.

Students will then be asked to apply these understandings to identify applications of these pulley systems in the Theatrical environment.

Further extension of this activity will allow students to explore the use of pulleys in theatrical flying mechanisms such as those in A Christmas Carol and compare the devices to simple pendulums.

Students will complete a lab write-up for one of their pulley experiments. In addition, students will create a poster/diagram of a theater stage which highlights the locations and uses/benefits of pulleys on the stage.

Rubric and Criteria

Lab Report Checklist None Task Attempted Task Partially Attempted Task Completed Comments
Define the purpose of the investigation. Provide a clear and achievable Purpose in the Purpose Section
Formulate a testable hypothesis. Provide a clear prediction of the outcome for your experiment in the Prediction Section 

Provide a specific and clear hypothesis in the Hypothesis Section

Ensure your hypothesis clearly indicates the independent and dependent variables.

Ensure your hypothesis provides a clear prediction for the outcome of the experiment.

Explain hypothesis using scientific reasoning Provide your reasoning for why you think your Hypothesis/Prediction will be true in the Hypothesis Section.
Identify relevant variables and how to manipulate them. Identify the following variables in your Variables section: 

Independent

Dependent

Controlled (at least 5)

Unable to Control (at least 5)

Explain method and use of apparatus clearly and sequentially 

 

In the Setup complete an accurately labeled Diagram of your experiment. 

In the Method provide enough detail so someone can repeat your experiment exactly as you completed it.

In the Method describe how you manipulated your independent variable.

In the Method describe how you measured your dependent variable.

In the Method describe how you controlled your controlled variables.

SCORING 0 5 6 7 8 9 10
OVERALL SCORE

 

Lab Report Checklist None Task Attempted Task Partially Attempted Task Completed Comments
Organize and present the data clearly and logically In the Results create a data table of your raw data 

In the Results properly label and title your data table

In the Results provide complete formulas for calculations if applicable

Transform the data into numerical and diagrammatic forms. In the Results create properly labeled and titled graphs
Explain trends and patterns in the data. In the Discussion identify clear trends or patterns in the data 

In the Discussion identify any unusual occurrences in the data

Fully evaluate the method and comment on the reliability and validity of the investigation. In the Discussion identify several limitations or experimental errors in your experiment 

In the Discussion explain the likely affects of these limitations on your data

In the Discussion clearly discuss the overall reliability or trust worthiness of your data

Draw clear conclusions based on the valid interpretation of the data. In the Conclusion clearly respond to your original hypothesis 

In the Conclusion provide adequate support for your findings

Discuss sensible improvements to the method. In the Conclusion identify several improvements that would improve the reliability of your results 

In the Conclusion explain how these improvements would improve the reliability of your data

Suggest future investigations related to this investigation. In the Conclusion suggest at least one additional investigation that builds on this investigation
SCORE 0 5 6 7 8 9 10
OVERALL CRITERION SCORE

 

Presentations Checklist None Task Attempted Task Partially Attempted Task Completed Comments
Explain the science. Explain the differences between Mass, Weight, Newton Force, and Work.
Explain some of the benefits of using pulleys in the theatrical environment. Explain at least 5 ways pulleys are used and benefit theatrical productions.
SCORE 0 5 6 7 8 9 10
OVERALL CRITERION SCORE
Presentations Checklist None Task Attempted Task Partially Attempted Task Completed Comments
Communicate effectively using scientific language. Use the following terms effectively in your presentation: 

Mass

Weight

Newton Force

Work

 

Present all of the information using appropriate visuals. Present a Poster/Diagram of a Theater stage labeled with pulley locations and uses. 

 

Acknowledge your sources. Provide a list of 2 or more sources used in your research.
SCORE 0 5 6 7 8 9 10
OVERALL CRITERION SCORE

Standards Met with this Lesson Plan

    Common Core Standards
    Science/Technical Subjects
    • Reading Standards for Literacy
      • Early High School: Key Ideas and Details
        • 3. Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks, attending to special cases or exceptions defined in the text.
      • Early High School: Craft and Structure
        • 4. Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 9_10 texts and topics.
      • Late High School: Key Ideas and Details
        • 3. Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks; analyze the specific results based on explanations in the text.
    • Writing Standards for Literacy
      • Early High School: Research to Build and Present Knowledge
        • 7. Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
      • Late High School: Text Type and Purposes
        • 2. Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes.
          • 2e. Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the information or explanation provided (e.g., articulating implications or the significance of the topic).
      • Late High School: Research to Build and Present Knowledge
        • 7. Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
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A Christmas Carol

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page to stage
From Page to Stage

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Black n Blue Boys/Broken Men

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Teddy Ferrara

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Measure for Measure

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By the Way, Meet Vera Stark

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Bayard Rustin speaking to a crowd in 1965. Photo by Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division (via Wikimedia Commons)
The March on Washington

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Momma’s Boyz

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Resources

Study Guide Archive