How to Build a Pulley System for a School Project

Written by linda mitchell
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How to Build a Pulley System for a School Project
Use a pulley wheel that has a groove in the centre of the wheel so ropes or belts stay on the device. (cistern pulley image by JCVStock from

A simple machine can be used to make work easier for people and perform helpful functions with no or few moving parts. Machines such as levers, wheels, wedges and pulleys are examples of this. Having students do science projects that involve using simple machines is a good way to further their understanding about moving parts, mechanical energy, and friction. Specifically, a pulley system science project can help students understand force, rotary motion, and kinetic energy that are required to move objects.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Thick wooden dowel
  • Drill and burrowing bits
  • Eye hook
  • Wire
  • Pulley wheel
  • Bucket
  • Wire cutters

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  1. 1

    Drill a small hole into the centre of the large dowel. Drill no more than halfway into the thickness of the dowel and not through the entire dowel. Use a bit that is slightly smaller in thickness than the eye hook screw portion. This is just a starter hole for the eye hook you will screw into it.

  2. 2

    Screw the hook in a clockwise direction until it is tightly secured.

  3. 3

    Put one end of the wire through the eye hook. Attach the pulley wheel to the hook with the wire ends. Feed one end of the wire through the top of the pulley wheel. Twist or tie both ends so the wheel is hanging from the eye hook.

  4. 4

    Feed another length of wire or thin rope into the groove of the pulley wheel.

  5. 5

    Tie one end of the wire or rope to the handle on your bucket.

  6. 6

    Hold the dowel in one hand and pull on one end of the rope to show how enough force can hoist the bucket up.

Tips and warnings

  • A pulley wheel has a groove down the centre so that ropes, belts or wires do not slip off of it when the pulley system is pulled up or let down.
  • Put different weighted objects into the bucket to demonstrate how weight affects the amount of force you have to apply to pull the bucket up. Demonstrate how different weights affect friction on the pulley wheel.

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