AppsChemistry & Physics

Simple Machines

Simple Machines (by Tinybop, Inc.) is an educational app that teaches users the basic concepts of physics. The app allows users to learn how objects react to force by using simple machines (simple tools):

  • Lever – bar that pivots from a fixed point
  • Wheel & Axle  – a wheel that turns on an axle (a cylinder that keeps the wheel in place)
  • Pulley – a rope wrapped around a wheel
  • Inclined Plane – a flat surface with one end propped up higher than the other
  • Screw – an inclined plane wrapped around a cylinder
  • Wedge – two inclined planes that meet at a point

The vibrant graphics make and intuitive design makes using the app an enjoyable experience. The main menu is organized by “simple machine”. When you click on an icon, the app takes you to an environment to learn how the select simple tool works.

Example: In the screw section, users swipe left or right to twist the screws to raise or lower the fish tanks. The app shows that it is easier to turn a coarse screw and difficult to turn a fine screw. The handbook provides descriptions for each simple tool and how they work.

This app is supplemented with a free downloadable handbook. The handbook provides an introduction levers, screws, wedges, pulleys, inclined planes and wheels/axles.

The simple machines handbook can be downloaded at the following link: Simple Machines Handbook

Direction, Distance, and Strength

The app is a fun way to learn about physics. The handbook provides explanations of the actions taken in the app. The handbook explains the impact of changing the direction, distance and strength of a force. Also provided are numerous discussion questions to reinforce lessons learned.

Examples of discussion questions provided include:
    • Find a lever in your home and use it. What is the fulcrum? athletes use? (Levers)
    • Why are wheels always round? (Wheel & Axle)What allows the spine to move? 
    • Can you think of any chores you do which which might be easier if you used a pulley? (Pulley)
    • Why are a staircase and a hill considered inclined planes (Inclined Plane)
    • When have you used a screw to hold two things together? (Screw)
    • Can you think of any items in your home that are shaped like a wedge? (Wedge)

Overall this is a great interactive app with impressive animations and graphics. Kids will enjoy exploring the different tools and learning about physics. The app is available on iOS devices and can be found on the iOS App Store.

To learn more about Tinybop’s other apps, follow them below:






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