Simple Machines for little engineers
September 18, 2015  |  Written by M. Rodrigo Brao

Many parents wish their kids were engineers when they grew up. Just like we suggested in this article, “My children want to become artists. What should I do?”, jobs related with science are better considered than artistic professions because they are usually associated with a “better future.” But for artistic kids, math and physics at school can become a real nightmare. Before this happens, we should teach them how much fun science is at home. Here, at The Toy Blog, we´ve offered some ideas in this respect such as “How to cultivate a scientific mind” or “10 experiments that will make your kids love science“. Today, we´d like to tell you about Simple Machines, an educational app for iPad and iPhone that will get your kids to enjoy discovering the world of physics.

What do wheels, screws, axles and pulleys have in common? All of the above are simple machines and tools, which make things work but they are also the fun characters of this app.

Designed by Tinybop, for kids between 6 and 8 years old, it aims at teaching them basic laws of physics in a fun and easy way. How does it work? Showing how each machine interacts with other objects.

Discover how it works

This isn’t a game of observation. It´s an action game where your child will learn how to use a lever to destroy a castle, pulleys to send a satellite into space and wedges to slice an iceberg into two.

Create your own experiments

Once they´ve learned what each of these machines are for, they can try to use them in small experiments of their own. That way they´ll understand what advantages and disadvantages each one has as well as the concepts of force and movement and be able to answer questions such as: “Can a bicycle go as fast and as far as a scooter?” or “How many pulleys will I need to lift a spaceship? “


Learning about invisible forces

Each of these machines apply the laws of physics so another important lesson your kids will learn is that not all of them work the same in terms of direction, distance or force. They will be able to observe how they work by lifting fishbowls or creating music in a room with slanted levels, paintball style.

If your kids would like to continue exploring the mysteries of physics, Tinybop has a manual, translated into 7 languages, which can be downloaded from its website for free. Activities, experiments and questions that allow them to keep learning. It´s also an excellent resource for parents and teachers too.

Toys and parents for a better understanding

Different investigations prove that the “interaction between parents and children is key to learning” because it allows children to enjoy the process. In the case of Simple Machines, it´s not just a matter of letting them use the iPad or iPhone, parents must play with them and explain what is happening.

It´s also very important that your kids realize that physics is not just a game but it´s part of the world we live in. Keeping this in mind you can explain how toys such as the Mutant Busters Headquarters and Panic Island or PinyPon Fairy Tree or Princess Palace work.

Whatever we hope our children become in the future, whether they be engineers or singers, we should remember to cultivate their critical minds. David Perkins, researcher at the Harvard University School of Education, says that the best strategy is to speak to kids about it all: “It´s not a question of helping them do their homework but speaking to them about science, politics, sports, art and the world in general. “

What games do you play with your kids so they cultivate their curiosity for science? 

Photo Credits: Tinybop


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