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Simple Machines: What Is a Wheel and Axle? (Grade 3)

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Simple Machines: What Is a Wheel and Axle?

Door Knob How do you travel to school or your home? Do you ride in a bus or car? Do you pedal your bike? Most vehicles use wheels and axles. But, many smaller objects like doorknobs and screwdrivers are wheels and axles too!

A wheel and axle is a type of simple machine. It is a larger circular wheel with a smaller axle, or rod, attached to its middle. The two parts turn together.

One way a wheel and axle works is by applying a force, push or pull, to the wheel. The handle of a doorknob is a wheel. Turning the knob turns the axle that unlatches the door. It is easier to turn the large knob of a doorknob than the small axle.

A second way a wheel and axle can work is by applying a force to the axle. A force turns the axle of a Ferris wheel. The carts on the wheel then turn in a large circle around the smaller axle. Enjoy the ride!
A ceiling fan uses a wheel and axle.
  1. True
  2. False
Grace turns the handle of a pencil sharpener. Which part of a wheel and axle is the handle of the pencil sharpener?
  1. axle
  2. wheel
A screwdriver is a tool that can be used as a wheel and axle. It has a handle to hold and turn. The handle attaches to a long shaft that ends in a flat or pointed tip.

Which part of the screwdriver is the axle?
  1. tip
  2. shaft
  3. handle
Mike is designing a steering wheel for his soapbox racer car. Which steering wheel would make it easiest for Mike to steer his car?
  1. a small wheel with a large axle
  2. a small wheel with a small axle
  3. a large wheel with a large axle
  4. a large wheel with a small axle
The picture shows a compound machine. It has more than one simple machine.
Does the machine use a wheel and axle?
  1. no
  2. yes

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