Thursday, May 15, 2014

Pretend Elevators with Bottle Cap Pulleys

This activity can be used to address the following Next Generation Science Standards
K-2-ETS1-1.Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.
K-2-ETS1-2.Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a given problem.
K-2-ETS1-3.Analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same problem to compare the strengths and weaknesses of how each performs.
Project Recycle! and Create! has provided me with some much needed motivation to do creative projects with my kids this year.  This month's challenge is to make an activity with or for our kids using bottle caps.

We made play animal elevators with operational pulleys.

 My children helped engineer their elevators and enjoyed using them for pretend play when we finished.  It was a fun introduction to a simple machine.

Materials: bottle caps, preferably of a few different sizes
A Box
Clothes pins
Small play animals

I let my children choose where to place the initial bottle caps, then hot glued them in place.

I tied string to some clothes pins.  They attached the animals.  My daughter put her favorite little turtle in a car made from a candy box.

I originally envisioned a multiple point pulley system, but they were intrigued lifting their animals with just one.  

My son was frustrated that the string kept slipping off of the pulley.  We solved the problem by gluing a larger lid on the outside of the pulley.

This kind of physical play is great for developing an intuitive understanding of physical properties. We also worked in a little problem solving.  I would like to come back to this concept and add some complexity when they are ready.  For today,  they naturaly made it into pretend play, while I slipped off to get dinner.

Lids have provided us with a few other great solutions. Including:

A drain stop  done by the Pony Artist

A lesson in Circular Motion at the Breakfast Table initiated by T-Rex

Check out these projects from my co-hosts.

Or do you have a great bottle cap/lid project?  Link it up!


  1. How much fun! I love that it's creative but also science!

    1. Thanks Emma! The kids get the credit for the creativity. The elevator part was their idea, but I love it.

  2. What a fun idea! I've been wanting to make a pulley for a while now... Never thought of using lids!


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