Easy Hydraulic Machines


Step 5: Lesson plan for teachers

The way I teach these projects is pretty straightforward. Hydraulics are most easily understood by the students if I allow them to play with a few pre-made systems before class. In my experience, children in grades 1-3 have a hard time conceptualizing what it means to transfer energy by pushing water from one piston to another.

I begin the lecture by showing a project that has been stripped to it's bare components, which removes visual clutter. Next I break down each part of the project into manageable pieces. For example, the simplest machine has two parts: the base + stand, and the lever; the fortune teller has the base, the pivot column, and the face (lever). As I explain each component, I point out the project's key features such as hinges, levers, and where the hydraulics attach.

After outlining the project, I demonstrating how to make a hydraulic system, at least three times, since the process isn't very intuitive and young kids have difficulty following the steps. The key is to remove all of the air - air can become compressed, which means that instead of moving energy from one piston to another, the air will simply absorb that energy by getting squished! Sometimes I prepare the hydraulic systems before class if my class time is limited or if I'm working with a young population. After I get the sense that the students are feeling confident and ready to begin, I allow them to gather their materials from pre-sorted bins and start building!

Thanks for reading through this Instructable! If you make any hydraulic machines, please post some photos for us :)

If you like what I've done, consider voting for my projects in the education contest. Thanks!

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