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In this activity, learners build their own construction cranes using tongue depressors and pushpins. Learners use simple tools to build the cranes and then have fun operating the crane to scoop and drop different materials like cereal, beans, or sand. Use this project to introduce learners to simple machines, specifically levers. [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Model


Materials List (per student)

  • 5 Large craft sticks
  • 3 Blocks of wood of different sizes
  • 1 Cup
  • 1 Nail
  • 1 Washer
  • 1 Binder clip
  • Pushpins
  • Hammer
  • Hot glue gun
  • Items to pick up (beans, cereal, or rice)


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
    • Technology
      • Construction
  • Physical Sciences
    • Energy
      • Work and Machines
    • Motion and Forces
      • Machines
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process

Informal Categories

  • Model Building
  • Toys


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Watsonville Environmental Science Workshop


  • All Rights Reserved, Watsonville Environmental Science Workshop, ©2011


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