Science Experiment – Levers

By AG Education | December 19, 2017

Build a simple machine to lift heavy loads

About this experiment

A lever is a long rod or stick that rests on a point called a fulcrum. When you apply force to one end, it reduces the effort needed to lift an object on the other end of the lever. In this experiment you will test the best position to place a fulcrum in order to lift a heavy load.

Materials

  • A 30cm or 1m ruler
  • An object to act as a fulcrum – this could be blocks of Lego Duplo, a brick, or
  • A book (or other somewhat heavy object) to lift with the lever

Steps

  1. Set your fulcrum on the ground and place the ruler on top. The fulcrum should sit in the middle of the ruler.
  2. Place the book (or heavy object) on one end of the ruler. This will cause the ruler to tilt down and touch the floor on that end.
  3. Push down on the other end of the ruler so the book is levered into the air.
  4. Repeat the steps, experimenting with placing the fulcrum at different points along the ruler.
    Is it easier to lift the book when the fulcrum is nearer or further away from it? Where do you think is the best place to position a fulcrum when lifting heavy objects?

You can repeat this experiment using different objects as your fulcrum or heavy load. Does the height of the fulcrum affect how high you can lift things? How much more strength is required for heavy loads and where do you need to place the fulcrum?