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Give Me a Brake

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Give Me a Brake

In this activity, learners explore the concept of how brakes can stop or slow mechanical motion. Learners examine the operation of a bicycle brake and use low cost materials to devise a simple braking system, then work as a team to suggest improvements to current bicycle brake designs.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 11

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Student Resource Sheets
  • Student Worksheets
  • Marble or ball less than 1 inch in diameter
  • 1 inch foam pipe insulation (about 12 inches)
  • Cardboard tube from paper towels
  • PVC pipe (about 12 inches, similar diameter to towel tube)
  • String
  • Rubber bands
  • Bicycle with working rim brake for examination (optional)


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Mechanical Engineering
      • Metallurgy and Materials Engineering
      • Transportation Engineering
    • Technology
      • Transportation
  • Physical Sciences
    • Energy
      • Potential and Kinetic Energy
      • Work and Machines
    • Motion and Forces
      • Machines
      • Momentum and Velocity
      • Acceleration
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Communicating Results
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Impacts of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Research and Development
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Informal Categories

  • Toys
  • Transportation


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



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