To keep exploring the world of physics, we reused our paint rollers from last week’s roll and paint activity as pulleys in a DIY toy elevator. In this activity, you can make a simple elevator perfect for transporting toys.
Elevators move and down the floors of buildings using a cable, pulley, counterweight, motor, and brake system. The elevator car is held up by a strong metal cable looped around a pulley and the counterweight is suspended from the opposite end of the cable.
The motor hoists the car from floor to floor, and the counterweight moves in the opposite direction. When the car goes up, the counterweight goes down. And when the car goes down, the counterweight goes up. Having the counterweight there makes it a lot easier for the motor and brakes to work. Without it, they would have to work a lot harder against the force of gravity.
Following the basics of this system, you can create your own simple elevator car, counterweight, and pulley with just a few supplies from around the house.
What you’ll need:
For the pulley:
A toilet paper tube
Cardboard or card stock
A hole puncher
And a dowel rod
A spool from thread or ribbon would also work in place of the toilet paper tube.
To suspend your elevator:
Two chairs, boxes, or other objects to attach your pulley to.
A string, yarn, or ribbon to use as a cable. Keep it long enough that it could hang from your elevator and touch the ground on one side.
Two lightweight containers that can hold small toys or weights. We used cottage cheese containers.
And finally, you’ll need small toys to act as passengers and counterweights.
Begin by building your pulley (we used the paint rollers from last week). Simply cut circles out of your cardboard that will fit over the ends of your toilet paper tube, punch a hole in the middle of each circle, tape them down, and stick your dowel rod through the holes.
Attach the ends of the dowel rod to your two chairs so it’s suspended in the air with enough space for your cable and elevator cars to move freely.
Next, tie your cable around your containers and arrange your cable over your pulley.
Time to experiment:
You can experiment with your elevator by adding passengers and counterweights to your elevator cars. Watch what happens when you add more passengers or more counterweights.
When the counterweight goes down, what happens to your car?
When the car goes down, what happens to your counterweight?
Keep the innovation going with the free digital picture book, How to Build a Robot From A to Z.