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Learning’s fun when mice are involved

First-grader Coleman Papa-Musgrave demonstrates how he used a fulcrum and a lever to make a seesaw that can entertain two mice. - Amelia Heagerty/staff photo
First-grader Coleman Papa-Musgrave demonstrates how he used a fulcrum and a lever to make a seesaw that can entertain two mice.
— image credit: Amelia Heagerty/staff photo

Students at Carpe Diem Primary School just finished a month-long exploration of simple machines with a bang — they built an amusement park for stuffed mice.

Demonstrating the lever, fulcrum, slanted plane, screw, pulley, wedge, wheel and axle, the amusement park offered mice the time of their lives on rides as varied as a Ferris wheel, “screw slide,” zip line, tube slide, teeter totter and a car ride.

Third-grader Colin Voynick and first-grader Lewis Kanagy built the large and colorful Ferris wheel, which took the pair more than two hours to build.

It has a battery-operated motor, and the pair demonstrated its clockwise and counterclockwise movement.

The ride can seat six adult mice or 12 baby mice — with seat-belts, Voynick said. The Ferris wheel demonstrates the use of the wheel and the axle, he said.

Amanda DeSantis, a third-grader, was one of the architects of the screw slide.

“It’s made out of a slanted plane, around a tube made of cardboard, and we’ve attached it to the ground,” she said.

Students had much to say about the different machines, but were able to pick one out of the array of machines as their favorite.

“I would say pulley because you can move different things different places,” DeSantis said. “We took a broom and a pole and one small person had to yank on the end of the rope and then they would slowly come because a pulley makes it easier to pull.”

The class had a messy afternoon outside learning about the wheel. The students tested two methods of making bubbles in bowls of soap and water — with a spoon, or with an eggbeater,

First-grader Maya Gould said because of that afternoon, the wheel was her favorite simple machine.

“The eggbeater could make the bubbles out of water and soap faster than the spoon,” she said.

Carpe Diem, a private school for grades K-3, is located in the Land Trust Building.

— Amelia Heagerty

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