Pulleys and Gears Design Challenge (Gr 4)

Grade: Four

Introduction: Prior to working on the Skill Builders, introduce the Design Challenge scenario to the students, and explain that they will be working through a variety of Skill Builders that will enable them to work successfully on the Design Challenge.

Design Challenge Scenario:

You will be working in teams of 2 to design and construct a model of a transporting sled and a pulley and/or gear system that will pull/push the sled with the car onto the crusher platform.

Design Specifications:

  • Your device must move the sled with car at least a distance of 50 cm onto a target (representing the opening to the crusher).
  • You must use only the supplied materials to construct your device.
  • The model must not be taller than 20cm and must not be longer than 20cm.

Prior Knowledge and Skills

  • characteristics and uses of pulleys and gears
  • practice making pulleys and pulley systems to change direction, speed and force
  • practice making gears and gear systems to change direction, speed and force

Skill Builders:

  • Skill Builder 1 - Tool Identification and Safety
  • Skill Builder 2 – Characteristics of Pulleys
  • Skill Builder 3 – Using Pulleys and Pulley Systems
  • Skill Builder 4 – Characteristics of Gears
  • Skill Builder 5 – Using Gears and Gear Systems
  • Skill Builder 6 – Using Pulleys and Gears Together
  • Skill Builder 7 – Design Process



  • Commercial pulley and gear kits (e.g., Lego Dacta Basic Simple Mechanisms Set [89630] or Motorized Simple Machines Set [89645])
  • Commercial pulleys (including those with metal frames)
  • Support structure for pulleys
  • Standard weights
  • Spring/Newton scales

Print Resources

  • Grade 4 text books and other information books (e.g., Harcourt Canada, Pearson/Addison-Wesley, Scholastic, GTK Press)
  • Simple machines web sites


  • Carpenter’s glue
  • Low temperature glue sticks
  • Gussets
  • String or rope
  • 1 cm X 1 cm bass wood
  • Wooden dowelling
  • Milk carton
  • Wooden skewers
  • Hooking device (e.g., paper clip)


  • Hacksaw
  • Mitre box
  • Joiners
  • Low temperature glue gun