Up the sakura tree! Grade 4 pulley experiment

There was a strange sight to be seen in the student courtyard on February 28. Fourth grade students could be seen hoisting the principal up  the cherry tree with a system of ropes. Was it some kind of cruel prank? Fortunately it turns out that the principal was a gracious volunteer. And the ropes… well, it’s science!

The culmination of the fourth grade science unit on simple machines resulted in this unique experience that left a lasting impressions on the nine and ten year olds. John Salisbury from the high school science department set up an experiment with multiple pulleys to demonstrate the topics being studied in the simple machines unit. The idea was to show that through a system of pulleys, a group of fourth grade students could lift a person much larger than themselves with little effort. But for this he needed volunteers… and who better than the Head of School, Mr. Ladd, the High School Principal Mr. Weinland, and counselor Mr. Lavender?

Needless to say the students were thrilled with the idea of pulling these noble volunteers up the cherry tree. And while doing so they observed how a pulley redirects force in order to lift an object. They investigated what they had learned was the second use of pulleys—reducing the amount of effort required to lift an object. Most of all, they saw the practical application of pulleys including systems that use combinations of pulleys, such as the block and tackle.

With these scientific principles learned,  the students were able to lift Mr. Ladd in no time with minimal effort. One student, Ben, summed up the entire experience with “This was the best science lesson ever!”