Catapults, Gears and Pulleys For Your Homeschool Science Curriculum

Simple machines always fascinate me and I’m sure they will fascinate you enough to tell your parents or homeschool teacher to add them to your homeschool curriculum. In the following experiments, I am going to show you how to build some simple machines with household articles.

The following homemade simple machine is a kind of a lever that helps lift a ping pong ball and various heavy objects. I will teach you to build it in no time and to make your homeschool curriculum exciting.

Easy Popsicle Catapult: Place five large sized popsicle sticks one above the other and bind them tightly together by winding rubber bands on both ends. Now bind two large-sized popsicle sticks in the same way but only wind the rubber bands around one end. Pull the free ends of the sticks wide apart in the shape of a “V.”

Now insert the stack of five in between the two sticks forming a V and push it towards the rubber band end, widening the angle of the V. Now secure the intersection with rubber band. Next, place the V on its side so that one arm of the V is resting on the table. On the other arm, glue a cap of a milk jug with the open end up. This cap holds the projectile, which could be a ping pong ball. Just a flick of the catapult’s arm will send the ping pong ball in the air. Have fun!

Gears are wheels having teeth along their rims. These teeth fit into each other so that when force is used to turn one wheel the same force is relayed to the other wheel.

Bottle Cap Gears: Flatten out two bottle caps in such a way that they are round in shape and their edges are still wavy. Now make holes in the center of both and nail them to a wooden board in such a way that their wavy edges are in contact with each other, forming the teeth of the gears. When you rotate one cap, the other will also rotate, but in the opposite direction. This is a cool example of simple gears.

Some gears have wheels of unequal diameters. In such a case, when the larger wheel turns once the smaller wheel turns many times and therefore magnifies the force.

The pulley and belt combination is used in many machines. The belt helps convey power from one pulley to the other. Many vehicles use this mechanism to relay power to all wheels. When pulleys of different sizes are used, torque (driving power) can be traded for speed and vice versa. The following homeschool curriculum experiment that I have designed will help you see how.

Cool Pulley and Belt Mechanism: Find an old roller skate with the wheels protruding from the sides. The new inline models will not work. Place the skate on its side so that it rests on one set of wheels and the other two wheels are facing upwards. Wind a rubber band over these two wheels. You are using the rubber band as a belt. What happens when you rotate one wheel clockwise? Which way does the other wheel rotate?

Now remove the rubber band from one wheel, keeping it still wrapped around the other wheel. Give the rubber band a twist so that it looks like an 8 and put it around the wheel. Now rotate one wheel clockwise. Which way does the other wheel turn? I have now given you a fair idea of how belts are used to make pulleys or wheels turn in the desired direction.

Ball Bearing Experiment: Take a clean paint can without the lid. You will see that after removing the lid there is a rim that is grooved. Now place an old heavy book or a similar object on this groove. Try to turn the book. You will notice that the book does not easily turn on the can.

Place some marbles all along the rim and place the same book on the marbles. Now try to turn the book. Is it easier? However there is still friction between the marbles. How about putting a few drops of cooking oil in the ridge of the rim (this can get messy, so you may use a wooden sheet or a chopping board instead of a book).

Now place the object over the marbles and turn it. Is it easier to turn the book? The above homeschool curriculum experiment will give you an idea about how ball bearings are used in simple machines to reduce friction.

Click the link below to check out the free “Homeschool Parent’s Guide to Teaching Science”, for more great science experiments and activities.

Homeschooling High School: Finding the Best Curriculum

One very common question among homeschoolers is “where do I find the best curriculum?”

There is not one curriculum that’s the best. There is only the curriculum that’s the best fit for your child. This is why I don’t think anybody can tell you what the best curriculum is, because it may not fit your child at all. So, one of the things you want to be thinking about is what has worked for your in the past because that’s the kind of thing that’s likely to be a successful curriculum in the future.

The other thing you want to be thinking about, especially during the high school years, is whether the curriculum was made for homeschoolers. The reason this is important is because there’s a lot of curriculum out there, even sold at homeschool conventions, that was originally developed for public and private high school teachers. These books assume that you are in a classroom setting and includes lots of repetition. It also assumes that the teacher knows the subject. This means if you were to buy a French book that was intended for a public school French teacher, it would assume you know French.

In contrast, if you buy curriculum that is intended and written for homeschoolers, it’s going to assume that you know nothing. It will assume that you don’t know the subject and that your child doesn’t know the subject. This is how you get through, especially those difficult subjects like chemistry, physics or algebra. You will want to choose a curriculum that is made for homeschoolers and this will help you be much more successful.

I have a suggestion for you if are looking for curriculum for the very first time and you have no idea where you are going to start or what you are going to do. Usually, I point people to Sonlight curriculum because I find that it has the best hand-holding and can help you kind of ease in to a homeschool curriculum a little bit. So, if you are completely flummoxed and you don’t have a clue where to start, look at Sonlight curriculum. Other than that just make sure that your curriculum choices are made for homeschoolers.

Diversity in Education and Curriculum Concepts – Book Review

Are you interested in a future in teaching, education administration, or becoming a social worker, or school psychologist, then there is a book, which I’d like to recommend that your read, and then I’d like to give you a more than fair assessment of this work.

“Multicultural Education in a Pluralistic Society,” by Donna M. Gollnick and Philip C. Chinn, Pearson Merrill a Prentice Hall Company, Upper Saddle River, NJ, (2006), pp. 404, ISBN: 0-13-119719-3.

This book was quite interesting to me, and its first publishing was in 1983 and it has been upgraded and republished every few years since. I felt as if the book was very hard to use because it has the Preface prior to the table of contents, which makes navigating very tough. The preface is quite good and explains how the book is formatted.

Once into the book it is very easy to follow along, even the most blithering idiot could use this book and understand it, perhaps, that is their target reader; at least this is the impression I got, and speaking of impression, I believe this book is trying to brainwash the “education student” who has an impressionable mind, this is my opinion based on reading it.

Indeed, as a coordinator for a think tank online I was really worried that such books are indeed being used to train and teach new teachers and college professionals, and students who will go into the educational profession as administrators, professors, psychologists, etc. There are chapters on social classes, race, homosexuality, diversity, gender, religion, and age. There are sub-chapters such as; Hate Groups

Racial Identification


Self Esteem

Sexual Harassment

Anyway, you get the idea of what this wonderful book is all about, unfortunately after reading through it all, I decided I really didn’t have room on my many book shelves for it. And I chose not to donate it to a Thrift Store, and I failed to put it into the recycle bin – it has gone straight into the trash. But, I think this is a great book for a neo-liberal-socialist. And I recommend that you read this book so you can understand how all this political correctness has permeated in our society and how it started in academia.

This book also had everything reiterated and duplicated on a CD ROM with videos, and roll-playing on each chapter. I suppose this is for those in academia who cannot read well, and yet, might still be teaching our children and kids. Look, anyone who is serious about teaching needs to understand how it all works, and what it’s all about, even if you disagree with every single aspect of it. This is why I read the book, and duly discharged to where I believe it belongs. Please consider this.