Sunday, October 07, 2007

Lego My Pulley

Last week our Lego League team learned about pulleys. Pulleys are apparently simple machines that you use to make things lighter, so your little scale hickamajig reads THREE instead of SIX. Getting the scale thingy down to three is exciting and means that you win the game of pulleys! The three moms in our Lego League are open-minded but basically clueless when it comes to machinery. Fortunately we can read and are staying a lesson ahead of our six-and-seven-year-olds. Also fortunately, our six-and-seven-year-olds are happy to inform us of every little thing that we don't already know, six or seven times each.

Here's Benny stretching his pulley cord thingy around his pulley wheelie thingies:

They tell me that if you want the pulley wheels to go opposite directions, like gears do, you have to twist the cord between them. Or something. Is it tiresome when I go on and on about "thingies" and "whatsits"? I'm not being coy, I promise you. I genuinely am that blunt-headed about physics. It all takes me back to that classroom during my last semester as a chemistry major, when I was taking something called "University Physics," an honors class with all the smarty math people that I was trying to hang with at the time. Shortly thereafter, I switched over to hanging with the smarty literature people, and felt much better. The math people always kind of looked at me in a vague, kind, lordly way. Well, here I am with physics again. Celebrating another day of living.

I like to build dog houses with my Legos. Is there any important principle to be learned from constructing a red and blue dog house with a front and back door?

Here's Ben demonstrating his lifting device:

Ben and Benny building away:

Here's the other half of the team, heads bowed over their pulley projects:

This week's assignment was to build a fishing pole, which Benny did this evening with Dan. They made one with one pulley, two pulleys, three pulleys, and you know, the darn Lego fish weight got lighter and lighter to wind up with each additional pulley. It was amazing.

So, does this mean that if I make myself a pulley necklace, I will see some results on the scale? I bet I could fit twenty five Lego pulleys onto a stylish choker. A few sequins, a dangling brick or two, who's with me? Let's accessorize our way to glamorous supermodel status. It's only a Lego (pulley) away.

Meanwhile, Benny will now demonstrate the more practical uses of pulleys: feeding worms to the fish in Broad Bay.


  1. One would think it very humbling to see your children learn something quickly and soon surpass you in knowledge of the topic. And yet we take such joy in it. Just one of the many cool things about homeschooling.

    Doesn't it make you sad, though, to think of all the years we spent listening to teachers talk and reading instead of learning hands-on? Like you, I didn't "get" physics, either. Wish I'd had some Legos with pulleys back then!

  2. I am very interested in these Lego Leagues--this is the second time I have heard about them and they sound great!