10 – 12

Understanding levers


Understanding levers

What to do with this activity?

Levers are a really clever way to lift very heavy items. Think about how stone circles like Stonehenge in England and these Irish stone circles were built thousands of years ago, before mechanical cranes were invented. The great pyramids of Egypt were also built using levers.

We use levers in everyday life - wheelbarrows, bottle openers, and hammers that take out nails, for instance. The best fun lever is the playground see-saw. 

Watch this animated video from TEDEd to find out how levers work and what to do if someone really heavy sits at the other end of the see-saw! Here's another video from Mocomi that explains levers in two minutes.

For a bit of fun, watch this Dad demonstrate that even his four year old can lift a very heavy stone using a long armed lever (and a bit of help from Dad)! 


  • Why am I doing this?

    Maths makes sense to children when they use it in everyday life - like measuring things, working out distances, estimating food for dinner or money for groceries. The more opportunities you give your child to use the maths they learn at school through everyday activities the more they will understand and enjoy working with numbers.

  • How can I do more?

    Discuss maths that you see around you. For example, talk about sales in shops – half price, 25% off, what is good value? Or how much will the item cost after the discount?

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