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Simple Machines in the Community

Science and Children—March 2008

The community can be a powerful context and mini-laboratory for cultivating students’ common understandings of science and mathematics. On the island of Panay in the Philippines, the community was the starting place for a group of fifth- and sixth-grade students to explore simple machines in their daily lives. What students learned in the process became the basis for developing the set of culturally relevant lessons on simple machines described in this article. Each of the examples that follow features a simple machine found in the community, an explanation of how it works, a guiding-inquiry question, and a follow-up activity designed to foster students’ exploration of this question.
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