Machinery Shape Sleuths

Shape Sleuths for Machinery

Southern Cross WIndmill c 1920This Shape Sleuths page aims to provide investigations  about machinery that will support the AusVELS curriculum for History and Maths, and  National Science Week and Maths of Planet Earth

It uses and builds on knowledge about machines from the web or in situ, with extensions possible following this.  The Maths concepts focus on shape and  measurement – length and area.

The materials may also be used for learning about:

  • Science Understanding  -how machines function – and Inquiry Skills – observing, recording, communicating .
  • History and and Science as Human Endeavour – why they are developed and how they changed lives
  • National Sciece Week (2013) – A Century of Australian Science – inventions
  • Maths of Planet Earth 2013 (Aust) – theme 3  – A planet organised by humans –  here
  • English and Communication -about what is being learned

    This Invention didn't catch on - a horse PUSHED auto-header. Jeparit Museum.

    This Invention didn’t catch on – a horse PUSHED auto-header. Jeparit Museum.

For any machine, eg the one in the photo above,  the Shape Sleuth investigation that could be carried out is:
SHAPE: identify the simple shapes that make it up ;  draw the machine using these shapes; describe  any differences in shape between this machine and others of its types which you know.
MEASUREMENT:  Make some measurements of its dimensions (it’s over 2m tall) ;  redo the drawing of the machine as a scaled drawing; look at what it does (note it uses horses pushing from behind to harvest the grain so that the horses don’t flatten grain before the machine gets to it)  and find figures for the rate at which it ‘works’ and what this means it is doing for its user.
CREATIVITY : Can you see any ways to improve how it works or what it does? Make a proposal for an invention to improve this one.
HISTORY : Look at what this machine does for what it would have replaced people doing in the past. (or in this case, why horses pushing a machine might not have been the best way to harvest crops)
COMMUNICATION – Share what you have learned with others, this may involve further Maths, English, Communication and IT skills.

Try this out –

Shape Sleuths for Farm Machinery

Go to the 20th Centry Australian Farm inventions page,  and scroll down to the  second part with a list of examples of Grain Farming Inventions. Each of these inventions has a pdf with  its Shape Sleuth exercises after the information about the inventions. The Shape Sleuths exercise are in blue print and have the same general format:

  1. Simplify the invention to a drawing of basic shapes
  2. Name the shapes
  3. a simulation to better help you understand how it works
  4. some things to investigate if you can get first hand discussion with a farmer or with someone owning that invention as it has evolved today.

The inventions with pdfs  are:

  • Alston gearless windmill
  • Averys Econ Fodder Roller
  • Beeline navigator
  • Bandts Ford Ute
  •  Gyral air seeder
  • Hannafords Pickler
  • Sunshine SP auto-header

Go to 2oth Century Australian Farm Inventions page here to get to the pfs for the above

Age levels – all -‘shape’ – This is most suited to Primary age groups for the Maths, but the history covers all levels.

Time needed – probably about  1 hour, depending on how precise the drawings are. Other time will depend on how you develop this activity.

Go to Shape Sleuths for the living things

Page updated 13 August 2013
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