Mechanical Comprehension Simple Machines Flash Card Set 188055

Cards 10
Focus Simple Machines
Topics Block and Tackle, First-Class Lever, Fixed Pulley, Inclined Plane, Third-Class Lever, Wedge, Wheel and Axle

Study Guide

Block and Tackle

Two or more pulleys used together constitute a block and tackle which, unlike a fixed pulley, does impart mechanical advantage as a function of the number of pulleys that make up the arrangement. So, for example, a block and tackle with three pulleys would have a mechanical advantage of three.

First-Class Lever

A first-class lever is used to increase force or distance while changing the direction of the force. The lever pivots on a fulcrum and, when a force is applied to the lever at one side of the fulcrum, the other end moves in the opposite direction. The position of the fulcrum also defines the mechanical advantage of the lever. If the fulcrum is closer to the force being applied, the load can be moved a greater distance at the expense of requiring a greater input force. If the fulcrum is closer to the load, less force is required but the force must be applied over a longer distance. An example of a first-class lever is a seesaw / teeter-totter.

Fixed Pulley

A fixed pulley is used to change the direction of a force and does not multiply the force applied. As such, it has a mechanical advantage of one. The benefit of a fixed pulley is that it can allow the force to be applied at a more convenient angle, for example, pulling downward or horizontally to lift an object instead of upward.

Inclined Plane

An inclined plane is a simple machine that reduces the force needed to raise an object to a certain height. Work equals force x distance and, by increasing the distance that the object travels, an inclined plane reduces the force necessary to raise it to a particular height. In this case, the mechanical advantage is to make the task easier. An example of an inclined plane is a ramp.

Third-Class Lever

A third-class lever is used to increase distance traveled by an object in the same direction as the force applied. The fulcrum is at one end of the lever, the object at the other, and the force is applied between them. This lever does not impart a mechanical advantage as the effort force must be greater than the load but does impart extra speed to the load. Examples of third-class levers are shovels and tweezers.


The wedge is a moving inclined plane that is used to lift, hold, or break apart an object. A wedge converts force applied to its blunt end into force perpendicular to its inclined surface. In contrast to a stationary plane where force is applied to the object being moved, with a wedge the object is stationary and the force is being applied to the plane. Examples of a wedge include knives and chisels.

Wheel and Axle

A wheel and axle uses two different diameter wheels mounted to a connecting axle. Force is applied to the larger wheel and large movements of this wheel result in small movements in the smaller wheel. Because a larger movement distance is being translated to a smaller distance, force is increased with a mechanical advantage equal to the ratio of the diameters of the wheels. An example of a wheel and axle is the steering wheel of a car.