A Clockwork Toy
Quick Start Lesson Plan
Just one way in which you could use the Museum resources around clockwork toys on Culture Street...
Subject focus: KS2 Science
Pupils should be taught to...
recognise that some mechanisms, including levers, pulleys and gears, allow a smaller force to have a
(National Curriculum 2014, Science, Year 5, Forces. Page30)
Subject focus: KS2 Design andTechnology
Pupils should be taught to...
Understand and use mechanical systems in their products [for example, gears, levers, cams, pulleys
(National Curriculum 2014, Design and Technology, KS2, Technical Knowledge. Page 3)
discovering and applying the formula behind gear ratios.
*When delivering the lesson, use this link
to work through the videos.
Equipment required: e Whiteboard, sufficient internet connected computers for group work, pencils, paper.
Explain to the children that today they will be performing a virtual autopsy on a mechanical horse.
(Ignore the cries of 'Not Again!') Show them video 1
Ask children to draw what they think the inside of the toy horse would look like, then share the results in small groups and report back to the class with their favourite ideas.
Show video 2
of the inside of the toy, and ask them to describe what they think is happening and discuss what aspects of the children's own ideas seem to have been accurate.
Organise them into small groups around computers pre-loaded with video 3
of three different
pairs of cog wheels rotating.
This is the crux of the lesson. Their task is to carefully observe the film and accurately describe what they see, and what mathematical pattern they observe between the wheels and their speeds of rotation. They will need to pause the video in order to be able to count the cogs, and play it to count the rotations of the wheel.
In the first pair, the red wheel has 12 cogs and the grey wheel, 6. The grey wheel rotates twice per each rotation of the red.
The second pair of wheels are both 12 cogs. They rotate at the same speed. The third pair, the red wheel has 18 cogs and the grey wheel, 12.
The desired result is for the pupils to express the theory that the relative speed of the wheels is governed by the number of cogs. A formal description would be;
Applied to the last pair of wheel on the film clip, that would read.
Show them this still image
of a 3D graphic model of the inside of the toy showing the
mechanical links between the drive wheel on the left, and the tail on the right. Their task
is to apply the mathematical theory they have just developed and predict how many times
the tail will spin during a single revolution of the drive wheel.
Groups report back, giving their predictions and explaining their methods.
Play video 4
and ask the class to count along with the rotations. (It spins 5x4x4 = 80 times)
- The core task involves pattern seeking, one of the main types of scientific inquiry required by the
2014 National Curriculum (page 137).
- The whole lesson also provides ample opportunity for pupils to develop their use of scientific spoken language,
a key theme of the 2014 National Curriculum (pg 136).
"The national curriculum for science reflects the importance of spoken language in pupils" development across the whole curriculum – cognitively, socially and linguistically. The quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are key factors in developing their scientific vocabulary and articulating scientific concepts clearly and precisely.
They must be assisted in making their thinking clear, both to themselves and others, and teachers should ensure that
pupils secure foundations by using discussion to probe and remedy their misconceptions."
- The task is difficult, but if pupils approach it with what Professor Carol Dweck calls a 'growth mindset', there
should be no problems.
See her RSA lecture at:
you watch through the first three minutes, you'll probably stay for it all.
- The lesson can be extended by following the suggestion of the NC (pg 166).
"Pupils might..design and make artefacts that use simple levels, pulleys, gears and / or springs and explore
An excellent guide to the theory and practice of this type of collective creative work in science can be found
throughout Dan Davies' 'Teaching Science Creatively' Routledge
ISBN13: 978-0-415-56132-7 (paperback)
ISBN13: 978-0-203-83998-0 (e book)
The book also has a great guest chapter by Ian Milne on 'Creative Exploration'.
- Take digital photographs of the children at work, to use later to develop a record of the activity.