Simple machines and the human body have a lot in common. Our teeth, for instance, act like a wedge, separating food into pieces. Patchogue-Medford Grade 4 teachers recently considered this connection while designing a simple machine project for their students. Working with teaching artist Paul Rodriguez, the teachers decided to have their students became human simple machines to explore how simple machines affect the use of energy.
For each session of his artist residency, Mr. Rodriguez (above, right) began with a study of different simple machines and how they use energy. He used images, pantomime, and examples of simple machines in daily life, such as in instruments, to engage the students.
Next, the students worked in small groups, using direction cards with text and diagrams (below), to make themselves into a human simple machine.
During the project, the students also saw a production by PUSH Physical Theatre, a troupe of professional movement artists. The PUSH performance included many examples of the movements the students explored with Mr. Rodriguez.
The movements created by the students were then incorporated into the choreography of a human simple machine dance (below). Through the performances and the discussions, the students demonstrated an understanding of how simple machines affect the use of energy.
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