DIY Pully – Physics Fun Experiment for Kids

We did our very first DIY pulley and learned physics concepts as well as the working of simple machines in the play way.

In fact, we were so excited about making a pulley at home.

Not really sure why we decided about making pulley but was counting on it for some time now. Pritika asked me if we can make a pulley at home and I wanted to show her. But was not sure about how to start and what will be required. I even checked in the stores some fancy wheels to get a shape of the pulley etc. But later did not pursue as was occupied with something else. However, the thought was haunting my mind and I was holding it as many things were occupied.

Pulley Making Process

Things required

  • Cardboard ribbon reel (we used the reel of designer stationary wire)
  • stick or metal wire to hang the pully
  • Pails – 2
  • Rope

They realized that the items which were heavy were difficult to be pulled up but landed down fast. The reverse happened with the lighter items. I explained to them about the science behind.

Into the reels center hole, we let the metal wire to pass through and attached either end to the metal railings on the balcony. We made sure that the metal wire is fixed properly and we were successful. Use thread or tape to tightly fix the metal wire tightly. It must be strong as when you add weight to the pulley it must not collapse.

Then to the pail handle, we fixed a rope one end and the rope’s other end passed through the ribbon reel.

Actually we have used two toy buckets one made with metal and another one with plastic. As soon as we let loose the metal one went down straight.

I let the kids put some marbles & stones to fill the plastic one – to pull it back at the level of the metal bucket.

Science Facts

This simple machine pulley contains a rope passing through the wheels to pull things up. The pressure applied on one end of the rope will bring the item tied to the rope’s other end.

We also tried adding one more pail on to the rope’s other end and increased the efficiency, in fact, it doubled up. We concurrently lifted up one and pulled down other.

When two pails used it was observed that the pulley balancing happened on its own with the weight of the pails. With the equal weight in the pails they stood and moved only upon pulling the rope. So now lifting is easy with this setup. Kids just loved it and kept on playing with it.

It is a simple machine and I am sure making it must be simple too. Fear of failure stopped me initially, then made up my mind to try something closer to a pulley at least. The purpose is to teach my little one about it with a demonstration so decided to make an attempt. Also, making a faulty one will teach more lessons than making a fool-proof design without knowing how it worked.

Who can do it

Preschool going kids can make it and will find it fun as well. They will be able to relate the science behind this. My elder one Pritika 5+ yrs helped me with the design as well as the construction. Younger one Tisha 3+ yrs could not really know the design and showed less interest but made it a point to play with it and have fun. 7+-year-old kids can try and make some modifications in design to learn more about pulley in detail.

Trust me it did not take more than a few mins in making this design and all happened inclusive of collecting the things required.

You can try this over stairs or just using chair legs. You can use any household material that is round enough to make a pully.

Caution note

Remember to be with kids as long ropes may lead to strangulation and they are hazardous. Always monitor kids and let them not handle the pulley alone. You must be around and supervise for any of these activities posted here. Even older kids need you around because kids remain kids and may sometime try something out of curiosity that leads to accidents.  

Pulleys lessons on the go

Once this set up is ready kids will now explore pulling it up and down to see them moving and will have real fun. In fact, my little ones lifted many things using this. They experiment with their blocks, toys and much more.

When the weight on the bucket was not similar, then the bucket that was heavy pulled itself to the floor. Only if we hold the rope, then it stopped, else it was moving towards to floor.

The minor flaw in our design includes not having equal weighted pails to start with. We fixed it with adding white marbles to the plastic one. But it was not as good as a perfectly balanced pully. It did slide when kids tried to play hard with it. This being our first attempt I felt glad. Will make a better one with my learning’s.

Looking forward to trying again with changes and make improvement. I am working on that. Keep watching to see updated activity with pictures soon.

Learn other experiments too

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