3rd Graders Build Factories

by Michael Porter
Lessons about the industrial revolution and simple machines turned out to be quite a challenging and rewarding project for our 3rd graders.
In their global studies class, 3rd graders learned about the industrial revolution and the impact the assembly line had on manufacturing goods. This made products cheaper and allowed for job growth.
In science and the makerspace, they took this a step further and learned about simple machines and how factories use simple machines in many of their manufacturing processes. The six simple machines are the lever, inclined plane, pulley, screw, wheel and axle, and wedge. 
During their Deep Dive week, students were placed into groups and each group was assigned a factory in the Northeast: Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, Cape Cod Potato Chips, the US Mint, or Crayola. The team studied how the factories produced their goods, and what types of machines were being utilized.

Each team member was responsible for building a subsection of the factory that included at least one simple machine. The individual components had to connect and work together to make one large assembly line that simulates how the factory actually works. 
This entire process allowed students to use design thinking to create solutions to real-world problems as well as understand the inner workings of factories built with simple machines to create products they use every day.  In addition, the students practiced important and practical skills in making individual parts function as one unit.