Mechanical Systems Mechanical Systems

Mechanical Systems Mechanical Systems
How many mechanical systems have you used today? You may not realize
it, but you use mechanical systems all the time to do simple tasks. When
you ride a bicycle, open a can, or sharpen a pencil, you have used a
mechanical system to help you complete a task.
All mechanical systems have an energy source. The
energy could come from electricity, gasoline, or solar
energy, but often the energy comes from humans.
(Remember that huge structures such as the pyramids
were built solely using human power!) The energy
needed to move this bicycle and this plane, for example,
comes from a pedalling human. Can you see how
machines help us perform tasks we might find difficult
to do otherwise? Imagine opening a can without a can
opener. Could you fly without a plane or other type
of aircraft?
In this unit, you will learn how some small, human-powered
mechanical devices work. You will see that tools as simple as a pair of
scissors function on the same principles as massive equipment powered
by fluid pressure and heat engines. You will discover the main factors in
the efficient operation of mechanical systems. You will also design and
build your own mechanical devices — including some powered by
hydraulics and pneumatics — and investigate their efficiency. Finally,
this unit examines how machines have changed as science and technology
have changed.
Unit Contents
Levers and
Inclined Planes
The Wheel and
and Pulleys
Energy, Friction,
and Efficiency
Force, Pressure,
and Area
Hydraulics and
People and
• How do we use
machines to do work and
to transfer energy?
• How can we design and
use machines efficiently
and responsibly?
How many machines have you used today?
How do we use mechanical devices such as
levers and pulleys to help us perform tasks?
In Topics 1–3, you will learn about lots of
mechanical devices.
• How have machines
changed over time?
How can the pressure of fluids be used to operate a machine such
as this amusement park ride? In Topics 4–6, you will learn how
fluids are used in mechanical systems, and how many systems —
even your body — are a combination of several smaller systems
working together.
268 MHR • Mechanical Systems
How have mechanical devices
changed over time? How do changes
in society and the environment affect
the mechanical devices we design?
In Topics 7–8, you will explore how
and why mechanical devices change
over time.
–355, Unit 4 P
ct this
You will condu
pleted Topics 1
project after
ge posed on pag
Carefully re
that you
ng about items
older person or
might like
jury or disability
person with
es, newspapers,
Look in magazin
ples of things yo
s in a
t. Save your idea
g File.”
“Project Plannin
f how you migh
Make sim
ep them in your
adapt an
Unit 4 Preview • MHR
In a dictionary, find
the origin of the word
“lever.” Then look up
the meaning of the word
“leverage” and use it in
a sentence.
Levers and Inclined Planes
Figure 4.1A and B How are the screwdriver and the teeter-totter alike?
What is the largest
object you have ever
tried to lift? At the
time, did you think that
there must be an easier
way to do this? Write
your responses to
these questions in your
Science Log. As you
study this unit, you will
discover some “better
ways” to lift large
objects and move
mechanical devices.
If you were to exert a force on a screwdriver, the screwdriver would
exert a force on something else, as shown in Figure 4.1A. Both the
screwdriver and the teeter-totter (shown in Figure 4.1B) act as levers.
As you learned in previous studies, a lever is a simple machine that
changes the amount of force you must exert in order to move an
object. It consists of a bar that is free to rotate around a fixed point.
This fixed point, the fulcrum, supports the lever (see Figure 4.2). The
fulcrum is the lever’s point of rotation. The force that you exert on a
lever to make it move is called the effort force. This term is used to
describe the force supplied to any machine in order to produce an
action. The load is the mass of an object that is moved or lifted by a
machine such as a lever. In other words, the load is the resistance to
movement that a machine must overcome. The distance between the
fulcrum and the effort force is called the effort arm. The distance
between the fulcrum and the load is called the load arm.
effort force
load arm
For tips on making a
great Science Log, turn
to Skill Focus 3.
effort arm
Figure 4.2 A lever is a simple machine consisting of a bar that rotates around a fixed point,
the fulcrum.
270 MHR • Mechanical Systems
You can discover levers in many different situations. Levers are
sorted into three classes. The class a lever belongs to depends on the
position of the effort force, the load, and the fulcrum, as shown in
Figures 4.3A, B, and C. As the photographs show, different classes of
levers are used for different purposes.
In a Class 1 lever, the fulcrum is between the effort and the load. A
pair of scissors is an example of a Class 1 lever. This class of lever can
be used either for power or for precision.
A Class 2 lever, such as a wheelbarrow, always exerts a greater force
on the load than the effort force you exert on the lever. In this type of
lever, the load is between the effort and the fulcrum.
In a Class 3 lever — a hockey stick, for example — the effort is
exerted between the fulcrum and the load. When using a Class 3 lever,
you must exert a greater force on the lever than the lever exerts on the
load. However, the load can be moved very quickly.
Have you ever rowed or
sailed a boat? The oars in
a rowboat and the rudder
of a sailboat are both
Class 1 levers. What class
of lever do you think a
canoe paddle is?
Figure 4.3A An example of
a Class 1 lever
Figure 4.3B An example of a Class 2 lever
Figure 4.3C An example of a Class 3 lever
Levers and Inclined Planes • MHR
Initiating and Planning
Performing and Recording
Analyzing and Interpreting
Communication and Teamwork
Levers in Action
How does the position of the fulcrum affect the effort force you must exert to lift a
load? Do you have to exert a greater effort force on a Class 2 or a Class 3 lever to
lift the same load? In this investigation you will contrast different types of levers.
Form a hypothesis about how the position of the fulcrum and the location of the
load affect the amount of effort force you must exert to lift the load.
sturdy board
brick (or similar heavy mass)
strong string
Place the board on a desk
or work surface, with half
its length extending over
the edge.
272 MHR • Mechanical Systems
Place the brick on the desk
on top of the end of the
board. This makes a Class 1
lever, with the edge of the
desk acting as the fulcrum.
CAUTION Handle the brick
carefully so it does not fall
on your foot.
Try to lift the brick by pushing down on the free end of
the board.
Repeat step 3 with most of
the board’s length on the
desk surface.
Now tie the brick to the
board so that the brick
hangs underneath it. Put one
end of the board on the desk
and hold the other end. This
makes a Class 2 lever. Try
to lift the brick while it is
hanging at two or three
different places along the
Finally, tie the brick to
the far end of the board.
This makes a Class 3 lever.
Try lifting it while holding
the board in two or three
different places. You will
need to make sure the end
of the board stays in place
on the desk.
1. (a) Which class or classes of lever exert(s) a load force
greater than your effort force?
Repeat step 3 with most of
the board extending over
the edge of the desk.
Compare the amount of
effort force you must exert
in each position in steps
3 to 5. Record your
(b) Which class or classes of lever exert(s) a load force less
than your effort force?
2. Does a Class 1 lever always exert a load force that is greater
than your effort force?
3. Which variable(s) was (were) the responding variable(s) in
this investigation? Which variable was manipulated?
Conclude and Apply
4. Write a statement comparing the advantages of Class 1,
Class 2, and Class 3 levers.
Levers and Inclined Planes • MHR
Bones and Muscles: Built-in Levers
Every time you move a finger, arm, or toe, you are using a lever. Your
bones act as levers and each of your joints acts as a fulcrum. Tendons
attach muscles to your bones. When a muscle contracts, the tendon
exerts an effort force on the bone. The load might be something that
you are lifting or pulling. The load could also be your own body; for
example, when you do a knee bend.
Most of the levers in your body are Class 3, but you can find Class 1
and Class 2 levers as well (see Figure 4.4).
Figure 4.4 Your body’s system of muscles and bones contains natural examples of levers,
including Class 1 (A), Class 2 (B), and Class 3 (C).
Look at the body levers shown in Figures 4.5A, B, and C. Decide the
class of each lever.
Figure 4.5A The calf muscle provides
the effort force. Assume that a body
weight of 600 N is the load.
274 MHR • Mechanical Systems
Figure 4.5B The biceps muscle provides
the effort force. The hand is lifting a 15
N object.
Figure 4.5C The triceps muscle provides
the effort force. The hand is pulling the
rope down with a force of 30 N.
An Arm in Space
One of the most exciting technological applications of levers is the
Space Shuttle Remote Manipulator System, shown in Figure 4.6A.
This system is usually called the Canadarm. It functions much like a
human arm, and it was designed and built in Canada. The “joints”
are moved by gears. As the gears turn, they move the “arms,” which
resemble levers.
Figure 4.6A The Canadarm is an amazing application of gears
and levers in outer space.
Figure 4.6B The Space Station Mobile Servicing System will be
equipped with a smaller two-armed robot – the SPDM – to do
complex repair jobs in space.
The Canadarm is a valuable addition to the space shuttle program
because it helps launch and recover satellites from the shuttle’s cargo
bay. One of the Canadarm’s most important missions was the repair of
the Hubble Space Telescope. This orbiting telescope can see farther
and more clearly than any ground-based optical telescope. (You may
have learned about the Hubble Space Telescope in Unit 3.)
A more complex version of the Canadarm — the Space Station
Mobile Servicing System — is shown in Figure 4.6B. This system will
assist in assembling and maintaining the International Space Station.
The base of the system will move along rails spanning the entire length
of the space station. When stretched out straight, the arm will be more
than 17 m long. It will be equipped with a smaller two-armed robot
that can do delicate repair jobs that astronauts themselves have done on
space walks until now.
Sixteen countries, includInternet:
ing Canada, Russia,
Japan, and the United
Learn more about the Canadarm and the International
States, are co-operatSpace Station by going to the above web site. Go to
Science Resources, then to SCIENCEFOCUS 8 to
ing in the planning
find out where to go next.
and assembling of the
International Space Station.
Do you remember the
difference between mass
and weight? Weight is a
force, and it is measured
in units called newtons
(N). The mass of an
object is the measure of
the amount of material in
it. Mass is measured in
grams or kilograms. You
measure weight with a
spring scale, or a force
meter. You measure mass
with a balance.
Levers and Inclined Planes • MHR
What Is Work?
As you continue your
studies in science, look
for more words that have
scientific meanings that
are different from their
everyday meanings. Can
you think of any of these
words that you have
already learned in addition
to work?
Figure 4.7A Somehow
Olivia has to get a box
into the back of this truck.
Is lifting the box straight
up and carrying it to the
back of the truck the
best option?
Does the title to this section sound like a silly question? Everyone
knows what work is! When you study for two hours, you have done a
lot of work. Cleaning your room always seems like a lot of work.
Carrying your backpack full of books is work. Or is it?
In everyday language, work can mean many different things.
However, in science, work has a special meaning. When you exert a
force on an object and move that object some distance in the direction
of the force, you do work on the object. For example, in Investigation
4-A, you exerted an effort force on the lever and moved it. You did
work on the lever. In turn, the lever exerted a force on the load (the
brick). The lever did work on the brick.
In science, work is defined as the product of the force exerted times
the distance moved.
Work = Force • Distance
Work is energy in action. Like energy, work is measured in units
called joules (J). The joule is named after English scientist James
Prescott Joule (1818–1889). In Unit 2, you learned that 1 N is approximately the weight of a 100 g mass. When you lift a 1 N weight a
distance of 1 m, you do 1 J of work.
To practise using the formula, assume that you exerted a force of
2.0 N on the lever and moved it a distance of 0.6 m. Calculate the work.
W = 2.0 N • 0.6 m
W = 1.2 J
You did 1.2 J of work on the lever. If the lever exerted a force of
6.0 N on the brick and moved it a distance of 0.20 m, how much work
did the lever do on the brick?
Think once more about carrying your backpack full of books down
the hall at school. Assume that your full backpack weighs 40 N. If you
walk down the hall a distance of 16 m, how much work did you do on
your books? According to the scientific definition, you did no work!
Why? You were exerting a force upward on the backpack so it would
not fall on the floor. However, you did not move upward. You moved
it in a horizontal direction.
The Inclined Plane
Figure 4.7B Olivia used an
inclined plane to help her
load the box of camping
gear into the truck. The
inclined plane decreased
the effort force Olivia
needed by increasing the
distance through which her
effort force was applied.
An inclined plane is a ramp or a slope that reduces the force you
need to exert to lift something. Inclined planes are also machines.
Look at the illustrations on the left. Olivia has the task of lifting a
50 kg box of camping gear into the back of the truck. The distance
from the ground to the back of the truck is 1 m (see Figure 4.7A).
Lifting the box straight up and carrying it to the truck would be
difficult. However, if Olivia used a board to make a ramp, as she does
in Figure 4.7B, she could probably push the box up.
276 MHR • Mechanical Systems
Easy Does It!
Why is it easier to climb a gentle hill than a
steep mountain trail or a cliff face? How does
the work you put into a machine (the work
input) affect the work that the machine does
(work output)? Try this activity to answer
these questions.
Find Out
7. Repeat this procedure for ramp heights of
0.10 m, 0.15 m, 0.20 m, and 0.25 m. Use a
stack of books to create the ramps.
spring scale
toy car or dynamics cart
tape (optional)
flat board at least 0.5 m long
metre stick
stack of books
Performing and Recording
1. Copy the data table shown here into
your notebook.
2. Attach the spring scale to your car using
the string. You may want to attach the
string to the car with the tape.
3. Measure the weight of your car. Record
this information in your data table.
4. Calculate the amount of work needed to lift
the car for each height in the table without
using a ramp. Record this information
under the column “Work output (J).”
5. Using a thin book to prop up the board,
make a ramp that has one end raised 5 cm
(0.05 m). Use the spring scale to pull the
car up the ramp. Pull at a slow, steady
speed. Record the effort force needed to
lift the car by pulling it up the ramp.
6. Measure the length of the ramp. Then
calculate the amount of work required to
pull the book up the ramp. This is the
work input.
Height of Weight output (J) Effort Length of input (J)
ramp (m) (N) W = N × m force (N) ramp (m) W = N × m
What Did You Find Out?
Analyzing and Interpreting
1. Which took more force, lifting the car
straight up or using the ramp?
2. Write a statement explaining how the force
needed to pull the car up the ramp relates
to the length of the ramp.
3. Write a statement explaining how the force
needed to pull the car up the ramp relates
to the angle of the ramp.
4. Did it require less work to pull the car up
the ramp than it did to lift the car to the
same height directly? Explain your answer.
Levers and Inclined Planes • MHR
Work Input and Work Output
When you do work on a machine such as a lever, the machine does
work on a load. The work you do on the machine is called input work.
The work the machine does on the load is the output work. You may
have noticed, when you did Investigation 4-A, that when your effort
force was small, the distance you pushed on the lever was large. At the
same time, the distance that the lever lifted the load was small. How do
you think that the input work compares to the output work?
You probably discovered, in the Find Out Activity, that your input
work on the ramp was nearly the same or larger than the output work.
As you continue to study mechanical systems, you will discover that
this is always true. A machine never does more work on the load than
you do on the machine. Why, then, do we often say that machines
make work easier? Machines make work easier because they change the
size or the direction of the force exerted on the machine. Think about
this. Could you lift a small, compact car a distance of one metre off the
ground? Could you lift yourself (climb) up five flights of stairs? The
two situations represent about the same amount of work.
What Is Mechanical Advantage?
Mechanical advantage is the comparison of the force produced by a
machine to the force applied to the machine. In other words, mechanical advantage is the comparison of the size of the load to the size of the
effort force. The smaller the effort force compared to the load, the
greater the mechanical advantage. You can use the following formula
to calculate mechanical advantage:
Mechanical Advantage (MA) =
Figure 4.8 The mechanical
advantage of this branchlever is 5.
Load force (FL)
Effort force (FE)
Suppose you are a passenger in a truck that gets stuck in mud. You
and the driver use a tree branch as a lever to lift the truck out of the
mud, as shown in Figure 4.8. If you apply an effort force of 500 N to
the branch, and the back of the truck weighs 2500 N, then the
mechanical advantage of the branch-lever is 5. Note that no units are
used to express mechanical advantage because it is a ratio.
effort force
500 N
fulcrum load force
2500 N
278 MHR • Mechanical Systems
Load force (FL )
Effort force (FE)
= 2500 N
500 N
Mechanical Advantage (MA) =
The branch-lever has exerted a force 5 times greater than the force
you exerted on it. This means the branch-lever made the job of lifting
the truck 5 times easier. Any machine with a mechanical advantage
greater than 1 allows the user to move a large load with a relatively
small effort force.
A machine can also have a mechanical advantage that is less than 1.
Imagine you are riding your bicycle. You exert an effort force of, say,
736 N downward as you push on the pedal. The resulting load force
that causes the bicycle to move forward is 81 N. The mechanical
advantage of the bicycle is calculated as follows:
Load force (FL )
Effort force (FE)
= 81 N
736 N
= 0.11
Mechanical Advantage (MA) =
What’s the advantage of
using a bicycle if it has a
mechanical advantage
that is less than 1? The
advantage is that it causes the tire to turn faster
than the pedals and the
bicycle moves faster than
your pedalling speed. You
gain a speed advantage.
What other devices have a
mechanical advantage
less than 1? Write your
ideas in your Science Log.
Finally, a machine may have a mechanical advantage equal to 1. For
example, suppose the effort force needed to raise a flag up a flagpole is
120 N. The load force — the flag plus the rope — is also 120 N.
Therefore, the mechanical advantage of the pulley on the flagpole is 1:
Load force (FL )
Effort force (FE)
= 120 N
120 N
Mechanical Advantage (MA) =
Some machines do not have any effect on the effort force that you exert. They simply
change the direction of the effort force. For example, when you pull down on the cord of
window blinds, the blinds go up. Only the direction of the force changes. The effort force
and the load are equal, so the mechanical advantage is 1. Try to think of other mechanical
devices that have a mechanical advantage of 1. Write your ideas in your Science Log.
A crafty coyote is trying to use a catapult to
launch a heavy rock. The rock, with a mass of
1000 kg, sits on one end of a plank. The coyote
figures that if he jumps on the other end of the
plank, his 25 kg mass will be enough to launch
the rock into the air. Calculate the mechanical
advantage the catapult must have for the
coyote’s plan to work.
Levers and Inclined Planes • MHR
Sharpen Up with Scissors
Is there a mechanical advantage to using
scissors? Is one way of using scissors easier
than another? Make a prediction about
whether it takes less effort force to cut
cardboard with the tip of the blades or with
the base of the blades near the hinge.
Safety Precautions
Find Out
CAUTION When using scissors, always
cut away from your body.
2. Open the scissors wide, put the cardboard
close to the hinge of the scissors, and
again make a cut.
What Did You Find Out?
Analyzing and Interpreting
1. Does one method make cutting the cardboard easier than the other method?
piece of heavy cardboard or folded paper
Performing and Recording
1. Test your prediction. Try to cut the
cardboard with the tip of the scissors.
You have been learning about different
types of levers and how they give us a
mechanical advantage. Create a web tutorial to teach other students about these
machines and the ways they help us do
work. In your tutorial, simulate the action
of the three different types of levers. Your
simulated levers can be simple machines,
such as the ones shown here, or they can
be parts of your body. Include a quiz and
an answer key for self-checking.
280 MHR • Mechanical Systems
2. Explain your observations based on what
you have learned about levers, effort force,
and mechanical advantage.
3. Describe how the effort arm relates to
the load arm in these two photographs.
Another Way to Calculate Mechanical Advantage
Levers can exert a force on a load that is either greater than or less
than the effort force you exert. If the load is less than the effort force,
the lever’s mechanical advantage is less than 1. For example, a mechanical advantage of _21 shows that your effort goes only half as far compared
to a lever with a mechanical advantage of 1.
The concepts of mechanical advantage and work can be linked.
Imagine that you are trying to lift a heavy boulder, as the coyote is on
page 279. The closer you are to the fulcrum (the smaller rock), the
harder it is to lift the boulder. The longer the effort arm (the distance
between the fulcrum and the effort), the less effort it will take to lift the
boulder. The longer effort arm gives you a mechanical advantage.
Recall that Work = Force • Distance. You trade distance for force —
you move the board farther, but moving it is easier. However, the amount
of work you do is the same. This suggests another way to calculate the
mechanical advantage of levers:
Mechanical Advantage (MA) =
Load force (FL )
Effort arm
Effort force (FE)
Load arm
If the effort arm of the branch-lever mentioned on page 306 were
3 m, and the load arm were 0.3 m, then the mechanical advantage
would be calculated as follows:
Surgeons use special
tools in a type of
microsurgery sometimes called “keyhole
surgery” because only
a small incision is
needed. A long tube is
pushed through the
incision to the part of
the patient’s body
requiring surgery. Fine
wires running through
the tube operate tiny
levers to cut and
sew as needed. The
surgeon watches the
operation on a television screen connected
to a tiny camera at the
end of the tube.
Effort arm
Load arm
= 3m
0.3 m
= 10
(MA) =
Using the branch as a Class 1 lever allows the effort force to be
multiplied by 10.
Although it might seem strange, there are situations
in which you might want to increase the force that
you yourself exert. For example, you might need a
machine to perform a delicate precision task. Think
about how tweezers work as you study this photograph. Which class of lever do they use? Infer
whether the mechanical advantage of tweezers will
be greater than 1, equal to 1, or less than 1.
Levers and Inclined Planes • MHR
Speedy Levers
When you calculated mechanical advantage, you learned that you can
use Class 1 levers to increase your effort force. You can exert only a
little force to achieve an incredible result. (This is why you can use a
simple Class 1 lever to lift very heavy objects.) Class 3 levers exert a
force on the load that is smaller than the effort force, so why would
you ever use such as lever? The advantage of a Class 3 lever is that the
force will move the load a greater distance and at a faster speed. That is
why you hit a hockey puck with the end of a metre-long stick. Speed is
the rate of motion, or the rate at which an object changes position.
Look at the baseball pitcher and the pizza chef in Figures 4.9A and B.
In both cases, the triceps muscle moves only a small amount to produce
the effort force needed to make the hand move rapidly through a
relatively large distance. The structure of the levers in the human body
makes it possible to perform delicate tasks with precision, as well as
major tasks requiring tremendous speed and flexibility.
If you need tips on
how to design an
experiment, turn to
Skill Focus 6.
Figure 4.9A How can a small contraction
Figure 4.9B Why does the spinning pizza
(shortening) of the triceps muscle produce the
long, fast movement of the pitcher’s hand?
Most of the levers inside your body have a
mechanical advantage smaller than 1.
Therefore, your muscles usually have to exert
a greater force on the lever (bone) than the
lever (bone) can exert on the load.
dough remain more or less in the same place?
With a partner, design an experiment that tests what you have learned about the speed
advantage of Class 3 levers. Use simple materials, such as marbles and a ruler. Write a
hypothesis, and the steps that would test your hypothesis. What variable would you
manipulate? How would you measure the speed and distance?
282 MHR • Mechanical Systems
Machines Made to Measure
Industrial designers study the dimensions of the human body in great
detail to make sure that every part of a machine or a product — such as
the ones shown in Figure 4.10 — will fit the person using it. Body
weight, height, size, age, and sometimes gender are factors taken into
account when designing products. These products can range from cars
to office furniture to light switches. The science of designing machines
to suit people is called ergonomics (from the Greek words ergon,
meaning “work,” and nomos, meaning “natural laws”).
Imagine you are an
ergonomist (an
ergonomics designer)
working on the
International Space
Station program. What
sorts of problems might
you have to solve?
Remember that the
astronauts will be working
in cramped positions as
well as in weightlessness.
Write your ideas in your
Science Log.
Figure 4.10 This space suit, child’s car seat, and assembly line in a factory have
all been designed to ensure that they are easy, comfortable, and safe for people
to use.
Ergonomics is especially important in the design of work environments
where occupational safety is an issue. For example, a common workplace disorder known as carpal tunnel syndrome causes numbness
and pain in the thumb and first three fingers. Carpal tunnel syndrome
results from repetitive movements of the fingers, such as working at a
computer keyboard. If the tendons that attach muscles to bones in the
wrist become irritated, they swell and start to squeeze the nerve inside
the carpal tunnel. If the condition is not treated soon after the symptoms appear, severe pain as far up as the shoulder can result. The
damage could become permanent. The most common treatment for
carpal tunnel syndrome is a brace that holds the wrist straight. This
prevents irritation of the tissues near the carpal tunnel.
Another way to avoid
carpal tunnel syndrome
is to get rid of the keyboard altogether and to
operate the computer
using a special pen-like
device, which keeps the
wrist flat. “Palm pilots”
(hand-held computers)
are already pioneering
this approach. Perhaps
one day home computers
will be able to “read”
your handwriting —
however messy it is!
Voice-activated computer
programs are also reducing the incidence of
carpal tunnel syndrome.
Levers and Inclined Planes • MHR
Looking Ahead
The simple machines
you have learned about
in this Topic are used
to make work easier.
Turn to “Adapting
Tools” on page 354 to
preview the project you
will be undertaking at
the end of this unit.
Start thinking of a tool
or utensil you might
want to adapt using the
knowledge you have
gained so far.
Dr. Janet Ronsky knows the human knee
like the back of her hand. She is a biomechanical engineer and an associate
professor at the University of Calgary. Her
research on the knee joint helps doctors and
other researchers understand how the shape
of a person’s bones may contribute to
degenerative joint diseases such as
osteoarthritis. Many specialists believe that
the bones of some people's joints press
together in an unusual way as they walk.
This may wear down the cartilage, the
cushioning material between those bones,
and result in joint problems.
Dr. Ronsky and her research team have
found a way to analyze the surface of the
joint bones while a person is walking. This
is important because the contact between
the bones changes over the course of the
walking motion. The research team uses
medical imaging along with high-speed
camera and video systems that track the
movement of the body parts. Other specialized equipment allows them to measure the
force a person applies to different parts of
the joint as they walk. By analyzing the three
types of information, Dr. Ronsky can predict
what is happening inside the patient's knee
joint. And that information helps doctors
decide how to treat the patient.
For Janet, working in bioengineering is the
perfect career. “Once I discovered I could
apply engineering to medical problems,” she
explains, “and possibly make a difference in
people’s everyday lives, I was hooked!” She
takes her work very seriously, and she’s not
the only one who thinks it is important. In
1999, Dr. Ronsky was presented with the
McCaig Program Development Award by the
Calgary Regional Health Authority. She was
also awarded a Natural Science and
Engineering Research Council of Canada
(NSERC) Women's Faculty Award in 1994.
1. Classify the levers in the illustrations as Class 1, Class 2, or Class 3.
2. How much work, in joules, must you do to lift an elephant weighing
60 000 N up 1.5 m onto the back of a truck?
3. You have found a ramp to lead up to the back of the truck. Will you and
your team need to exert more, less, or the same forces as in question 2?
4. If you exert a force of 100 N on a hockey stick, and the stick exerts a
force of 20 N on the puck, what is the mechanical advantage of the stick?
5. If the “effort arm” distance for the hockey stick in question 4 (between
your “fulcrum” hand and your pushing hand) is 25 cm, how long is the
stick? (Use your answer to question 4.) If your hand is pushing at a speed
of 20 km/h, how fast will the puck move?
6. Thinking Critically Think of a practical use for a lever with a
mechanical advantage of 1. Draw a sketch of this lever in action.
284 MHR • Mechanical Systems
The Wheel and Axle,
Gears, and Pulleys
Earlier, you discovered that you can lift a
heavy load as long as you can find a lever
that is long enough and strong enough to
do the job. Sometimes, however, levers
are not practical, as shown in
Figure 4.11. Fortunately, there are many
other kinds of machines that can give
you a mechanical advantage great
enough to move a heavy load with a
much smaller effort force. Think about
this question: How could you modify a lever to make it shorter, but still
able to move a load over a longer distance? Look for clues in Figure
4.12A, which shows a person loading a motor boat onto a boat-trailer.
Figure 4.11 No one would
ever try to lift an elephant
like this!
A Lever That Keeps on Lifting
The device the person is using to move the boat is called a winch.
A winch consists of a small cylinder and a crank or handle. Study
Figure 4.12B to see how a winch works. Notice that the axle of the
winch is held in place and acts like a fulcrum. The handle is like the
effort arm of a lever. Exerting a force on the handle turns the wheel.
This motion is much like the effort force on a lever. However, you do
not reach “bottom” with the handle. You just keep turning.
The handle of a manual
pencil sharpener and the
reel on a fishing rod are
examples of winches.
load arm
(radius of
effort arm
(length of
Figure 4.12 A winch makes loading a boat onto a trailer relatively easy.
Notice that the radius of the wheel — the distance from the centre
of the wheel to the circumference — is like the load arm of a lever. The
force that the cable exerts on the wheel is like the load on a lever. Since
the handle is much longer than the radius of the wheel, the effort force
is smaller than the load. Using a winch is like using a short lever over
and over again.
The Wheel and Axle, Gears, and Pulleys • MHR
The Wheel and Axle
A winch is just one example of a wheel-and-axle device. As you can see
in Figure 4.13, wheel-and-axle combinations come in a variety of
shapes and sizes. The “wheel” does not even have to be round. As long
as two turning objects are attached to each other at their centres, and
one causes the other to turn, you can call the device a wheel and axle.
You can hardly open your eyes without seeing a wheel-and-axle
machine of some sort. Study Figure 4.13 and identify the wheel-andaxle devices. Remember that some instruments or machines have more
than one wheel-and-axle combination. The wheel and axle is more
convenient than a lever for some tasks, and, like a lever, it provides a
mechanical advantage.
Figure 4.13 Each of these
objects contains a wheel
and axle.
Speed and Action
Gaining a mechanical advantage is one benefit of using a wheel-andaxle device. Just like a lever, a wheel-and-axle device can also generate
speed, as shown in Figures 4.14A and B. In return, however, these
machines require a large effort force and produce a smaller force on
the load.
Figure 4.14A Look at the pedals and the
front wheel on this tricycle. Is the effort force
exerted on the wheel or the axle? What does
the clown get in return for the effort put into
the machine?
286 MHR • Mechanical Systems
Figure 4.14B What are the possible benefits of
the huge wheel on this old-fashioned bicycle?
Gearing Up
A wheel-and-axle device provides speed for a race
car zooming around a track. However, the wheel
and the axle are attached to each other, so each
makes the same number of rotations every second.
Suppose you wanted to make one wheel rotate
faster than another wheel. For example, a clock has
follower gear
a second hand, a minute hand, and an hour hand,
each rotating at different speeds from the same
A gear is a rotating wheel-like object with teeth
around its rim. A group of two or more gears is
called a gear train. Two different gear trains (A and
B) are shown in Figure 4.15. The teeth of one gear
fit into the teeth of another. When the first gear
turns, its teeth push on the teeth of the second
gear, causing the second gear to turn. The first
gear, or driving gear (often called the driver), may turn because
someone is turning a handle or because it is attached to a motor. The
second gear is called the driven gear (often called the follower). Can
you find a gear train in Figure 4.16? Figures 4.17 and 4.18 on page 288
illustrate two other applications of gears. Find out what gears can help
you do in the next activity.
driver gear
Figure 4.15 A gear train
consists of two or more
gears in contact with
each other.
Figure 4.16 This combine features sprockets and belts, as well as a gear train.
The Wheel and Axle, Gears, and Pulleys • MHR
Figure 4.17 This diagram shows how the gears inside an old-
Figure 4.18 The gears inside a large telescope are designed so
fashioned clock ensure that the minute hand makes exactly
60 full rotations when the hour hand makes one full rotation.
that the telescope can track the constant slow motion of stars
across the sky with incredible precision.
Turnaround Time
Find Out
How many times does the follower gear turn
when the driver gear makes one full turn?
Does the number of rotations depend on how
much larger the driver gear is?
4. Divide the diameter of the larger gear by
the diameter of the smaller gear. Record
your answer. Compare this number with
the number you recorded in step 2.
5. Count the number of teeth on each gear.
Divide the number of teeth on the larger
gear by the number of teeth on the smaller
gear. Record your answer. Compare this
number with the numbers you calculated
in steps 2 and 4.
set of gears of different sizes — for example,
from a Spirograph™ or Lego Technik™ set
felt tip pen and ruler
Performing and Recording
1. With a felt tip pen, make a mark on one
tooth of each of the two gears, at the spot
where they touch.
2. Turn one gear and count the number of
times the smaller gear turns when the
larger gear makes one full turn. Record
this number.
3. Measure and record the diameters of each
of the gears.
What Did You Find Out?
Analyzing and Interpret
1. Why does the smaller gear complete one
full rotation before the larger gear does?
(Look at the felt tip marks as the gears
go around.)
2. If the larger gear had three times as many
teeth, how many rotations would the smaller gear make in one rotation of the larger
gear? How much bigger would the larger
gear be in this case?
3. Explain two different measurements that
you could use to predict the numbers of
turns a small gear will make every time
the large gear makes one full turn. What
would you predict about the mechanical
advantage of this gear combination?
Write a statement that summarizes your
conclusion about gears.
288 MHR • Mechanical Systems
Going the Distance
Can one gear turn another gear without touching it? Does this sound
impossible? Think about the gears on your bicycle. One set of gears is
attached to the pedals and another to the rear wheel. A chain connecting the gears allows the front gear to turn the gear on the rear wheel,
some distance away. A gear with teeth that fit into the links of a chain is
called a sprocket. Figure 4.19 compares gears in contact with each
other and gears in a sprocket.
wheel and pinion (gears in contact)
chain and sprockets
Figure 4.19 Take a look at this comparison of gears in contact (A) and gears, or sprockets,
connected by a chain (B). While the gears in contact turn in opposite directions, the gears
connected by a chain turn in the same direction.
Each link of a bicycle chain moves the same distance in the same
period of time. Thus, if the front sprocket moves the chain a distance
equal to 45 teeth, the back sprocket will also move through a distance
of 45 teeth. However, the back sprocket may have only 15 teeth and
the front sprocket may have 45 teeth. As a result, the back sprocket
would make three full turns for every one complete turn of the front
sprocket. The relationship between the speed of rotations of a smaller
gear and a larger gear is called the speed ratio. In this example, the
bicycle has a speed ratio of 3. Here is the formula for calculating
speed ratio:
Speed ratio =
Number of driver gear teeth
Number of follower gear teeth
In the next investigation, examine the speed ratio of gears in a bicycle.
Figure 4.20 This enormous
conveyor belt is used at Syncrude
Oil Sands in Fort McMurray, Alberta.
The belt acts like a chain. Can you
see the sprockets?
The Wheel and Axle, Gears, and Pulleys • MHR
Initiating and Planning
Performing and Recording
Analyzing and Interpreting
Communication and Teamwork
Gear Up for Speed!
How do bicycle gears help your bicycle go faster, or help you pedal up
a hill? What is the difference between high gear and low gear? Why
would you want more than one gear on your bicycle anyway? This
investigation will demonstrate how gears on a bicycle can give you
a mechanical advantage.
How does the speed ratio change as you switch between different gears on
a bicycle, and how does this affect the force you need to pedal the bicycle?
bicycle with double set of
racing gears
Make a data table like the
one shown below. Give your
table a suitable title. You
may have to change the
number of rows and
columns, depending on the
number of sprockets on the
bicycle you are using.
Back sprockets
Number of teeth
290 MHR • Mechanical Systems
Count the number of teeth
on each of the front sprockets. Record these numbers
in the row of your table to
the right of the heading,
“Number of teeth.” Make
sprocket number 1 the
largest sprocket.
Front sprockets
Count the number of teeth
on each of the back sprockets. Record these numbers
in the column below the
heading, “Number of teeth.”
Again, make sprocket number 1 the largest sprocket.
For tips on creating data tables, turn
to Skill Focus 10.
For each box in the rest of
the table, divide the number
of teeth in the front sprocket
(at the top of the column) by
the number of teeth in the
back sprocket (in the first
column of the table). This
gives you the speed ratio of
each gear combination.
1. What do the data indicate about the number of times the
back sprocket and the wheels turn when the front sprocket
and the pedals make one full turn?
2. Explain what you think “high gear” and “low gear” mean.
3. If the speed ratio increases when you change gear, will the
mechanical advantage of the bicycle increase or decrease?
(Hint: Remember what you learned about trading force for
distance or speed.)
Conclude and Apply
4. Why do you need to pedal faster to go at the same speed
when your bicycle is in a lower gear?
5. Which gear helps you go faster on level ground? Why?
6. Why do you use low gear when going up hills?
The Wheel and Axle, Gears, and Pulleys • MHR
Figure 4.21 How does this weight machine allow the woman to lift weights safely and comfortably?
MA = 1
single fixed pulley
You learned in previous studies that a pulley is a grooved wheel with
a rope or a chain running along the groove. You can see an example of
pulleys in action in Figure 4.21. A pulley is similar to a Class 1 lever.
Instead of a bar, a pulley has a rope. The axle of the pulley acts like a
fulcrum. The two sides of the pulley are the effort arm and the load arm.
Pulleys can be fixed or movable, as shown in Figure 4.22. A fixed
pulley is attached to something that does not move, such as a ceiling,
a wall, or a tree. A fixed pulley, such as the one used at the top of a
flagpole, can change the direction of an effort force. When you pull
down on the effort arm with the rope, the
pulley raises the object attached to the load
arm. Thus, a single fixed pulley simply
changes the direction of the motion and
makes certain movements more convenient.
Once the flagpole pulley is attached, you can
raise and lower the flag without ever climbing
to the top of the flagpole!
A movable pulley is attached to something
else, often by a rope that goes around the
pulley itself. If a rope is fixed to the ceiling
and then comes down around the pulley and
back up, you can lift and lower the pulley
MA = 2
itself by pulling on the rope. The load may
single movable pulley
be attached to the centre of the pulley.
Figure 4.22 Pulleys can be fixed or movable.
292 MHR • Mechanical Systems
Supercharging Pulleys
You saw that a wheel-and-axle combination can be compared to a lever.
It would seem logical to analyze a pulley in the same way. However, if
you imagine a pulley as a lever, you will discover that the “effort” arm
and the “load” arm are the same. So how do pulleys help you lift
heavy loads?
You have seen that a single pulley can make lifting a load more
convenient. Combinations of pulleys are required to lift very heavy
or awkward loads (see Figure 4.23). The very complex pulley system
shown in Figure 4.24 is a combination of fixed and movable pulleys,
called a block and tackle. Depending on the number of
pulleys used, a block and tackle can have a large mechanical
advantage. You have probably noticed that pulley systems
designed to lift very heavy loads have long cables running
around several pulleys. How can you determine the mechanical
advantage of a compound pulley — one made up of several
pulleys working together? To find out, perform the investigation on the next page. As a warm-up, you can also do the
MA = 4
activity below.
Tug of War
How can you increase the mechanical
advantage of a pulley?
Figure 4.23 This oil pump
uses several pulleys and a
lever to raise and lower the
pump valves to bring the
oil to the surface.
Figure 4.24 A block
and tackle
Find Out
Experiment with different numbers of
rope windings.
Safety Precaution
Always wear gloves to protect your hands
from rope burn.
2 broom handles or similar smooth poles
rope or twine (about 4 m)
Communication and Teamwork
1. Two students hold the upright broom
handles between them, side by side.
2. Tie one end of the rope to one broom
handle, and pass it once around the
other handle.
3. A third student should try to pull the
handles together using the rope, while
the other two try to hold them apart.
4. Now wind the rope a couple more times
around the handles, and try again.
What Did You Find Out?
Analyzing and Interpr
1. Does increasing the number of rope windings make it easier for the student pulling
the rope to move the handles together?
2. What forces do the two students holding
the handles experience?
3. Is there any change in how far the student
has to pull the rope as the number of
windings increases?
The Wheel and Axle, Gears, and Pulleys • MHR
Initiating and Planning
Performing and Recording
Analyzing and Interpreting
Communication and Teamwork
Pick It Up
Imagine you and your group are a team of
engineers working for the Ace Crane Company.
You are in the process of developing a new crane
to be used in the construction industry.
Safety Precautions
Design Specifications
Use your knowledge of simple machines to design
and build a prototype of a crane. The crane must
feature a wheel-and-axle system that can lift
weights of up to 12 000 N. The motor that must
be used to turn the crane’s wheel-and-axle system
can generate a force of 4000 N on the rim of
the axle.
wood, cardboard, dowelling, Lego™ parts (or similar
construction kit parts), string, glue gun, 12 N weight
Build a model (a prototype) that can lift a load of
12 N (to represent the 12 000 N weight) with an
effort of 4 N (to represent the 4000 N force).
Plan and Construct
As a group, discuss potential designs. Make
technical drawings and discuss possible problems with each design until you have decided
on a design that you think will work.
Select the materials for the prototype.
Show your plan to your teacher for approval.
Collect your materials and draw a blueprint.
Assign the tasks among your team members.
Construct your prototype. You should have
some members of your team working on the
wheel-and-axle system and others working on
the body of the crane.
Test your crane using a 12 N load.
1. Does your mechanical device satisfy all the
conditions in the Challenge? If not, how
could you modify the design to make it
work? If you have the opportunity, make
and test your modifications.
2. Write a report that describes your device.
Include your blueprint and clearly label
each part. Discuss any problems your
team had with the device and present
possible solutions.
294 MHR • Mechanical Systems
1. Draw a sketch of a single pulley in an arrangement that gives a
mechanical advantage of 1. Then draw a sketch of a single pulley in
an arrangement that gives a mechanical advantage of 2.
2. If you wanted a winch to have a mechanical advantage of 4 and the radius
of the axle was 5 cm, how long would the handle have to be?
3. Find the overall mechanical advantage of the pulley system shown in the
diagram below.
4. Thinking Critically If a bicycle has two sprockets on the front and
four sprockets on the back, how many different gear combinations
should it have?
5. Design Your Own Design an experiment that would test the advantage
of using a mechanical system to lift a bucket of cement to a height of 1 m.
Use the mechanical system of your choice (e.g., inclined plane, pulley,
etc.). Be sure to identify responding and manipulated variables, and to
specify a control. After you have performed your investigation, list criteria
for assessing your solution to the problem.
The Wheel and Axle, Gears, and Pulleys • MHR
Energy, Friction,
and Efficiency
Work and Energy
You have learned about many different kinds of simple machines in the
last two Topics. In every case — levers, pulleys, gears, and sprockets —
when someone did work on the machine, the machine did work on a
load. You have learned that, in science, work has a specific meaning.
Have you figured out just what work really is? Work is a transfer of
energy. You use energy when you push on the pedals of a bicycle and
make them move (see Figure 4.25A). Now the pedals have the energy
of motion called kinetic energy. The pedals are attached to the
sprocket. This combination forms a wheel-and-axle machine. This
machine does work on the sprocket and chain machine, transferring
energy to it. Trace the energy transfers throughout the entire bicycle.
What is the final form of energy?
You may already know that energy cannot be created or destroyed. It
has to come from somewhere. When you do work on a machine, where
did you get the energy? Your energy came from the chemical energy
stored in the food you eat.
Most of today’s machines are not “people powered.” Two of the most
common sources of energy for machines are illustrated in Figure 4.25
B and C. Most vehicles such as this large combine obtain energy from
fuels such as gasoline. The refrigerator runs on electrical energy.
Stored Energy
Figure 4.25 (A) The source
of energy for this machine
is the person. (B) This
combine gets its energy
from fuel. (C) Electricity
is the source of energy
for the compressor on
this refrigerator.
Energy must be transferred to a machine to make the machine work.
However, we want to control when the machines work and when they
do not. So, we need to store the energy in some way, then use it when
we need it. Stored energy is also called potential energy. Much of the
energy for machines, including your body, is stored as chemical energy.
You could call this chemical potential energy.
In the next activity, you are going to transfer energy to a machine
made of a tube and small ball. This activity will help you to understand
another form of potential energy, gravitational potential energy. You
will do work on the ball by lifting it to a high level.
When you lift it to a higher level, what is the form of the energy that
you have transferred to the ball? It is not moving so it has no kinetic
energy. However, if you released it, the force of gravity would make it
fall and give it kinetic energy. This type of stored energy is called
gravitational potential energy. What practical systems store energy in
the form of gravitational potential energy? Hint: Look at Figure 4.26.
296 MHR • Mechanical Systems
The ultimate source of
energy for Earth is the
Sun. The Sun causes
winds to blow, drives the
water cycle, and can be
captured as solar energy.
As well, some fuels, such
as oil and gas, are made
of the remains of plants
that grew million of years
ago using the Sun’s energy. Can you think of other
forms of energy and how
the Sun affects them?
Figure 4.26 How is gravitational potential energy being stored here? Into
what form of energy will this stored energy be converted?
A Rubber Roller Coaster
What is the best design for a roller coaster?
Your challenge is to work in a team to design a
roller coaster with two hills. A small ball must
be able to travel the entire length of the tube.
4 m of 5 mm diameter vinyl or rubber tubing
small ball that will fit inside tubing
(for example, ball bearing)
metre stick
Find Out
Performing and Recording
Communication and Teamwork
1. Tape one end of the tube to the wall. Have
one person in your team hold the other
end of the tube at chest height.
2. Use the rest of the tubing to make two
hills. Determine the maximum height that
the hills can be so that the ball still makes
it to the end of the tube.
3. Examine the photograph. Will the students’
design work? Explain. Experiment with
other designs. How do different designs
affect the movement of the ball? Sketch
some of your designs and describe how
well they worked.
What Did You Find Out?
Analyzing and Interpre
Sketch your roller coaster and show where
the ball has potential energy and where it has
kinetic energy.
Energy, Friction, and Efficiency • MHR
Energy Transmitters
Earlier you learned how energy can be converted from one form into
another. Energy, or power, can also be transmitted. In energy
transmission, the energy is transferred from one place to another,
and no energy is changed or converted. For example, the chain on your
bicycle links the two sprockets. Electrical wires transmit the power
from the generating station to your home. The chain and the electrical
wires are both energy transmitters.
Figure 4.27 The fan belt
transmits power from a
car’s crankshaft to a fan
that cools the radiator and
to a pulley that turns an
alternator. The alternator
produces electricity for
use in the car or storage
in the battery.
No Machine Is 100 Percent Efficient
An ideal machine would transfer all of the energy it received to a
load or to another machine. However, real machines do not work this
efficiently. Some of the energy is always lost. The work output of a
machine is always less than the work input.
No machine is perfect, but some machines come closer than others.
The efficiency of a machine tells you how much of the energy you
gave to the machine was transferred to the load by the machine.
Efficiency is a comparison of the useful work provided by a machine or
a system with the work supplied to the machine or system. Efficiency is
usually stated as a percentage. If we use a lever as an example, you can
calculate the efficiency of the lever by using this formula:
Efficiency =
Many car engines are
only about 20 percent
efficient. Where does
all the “lost” energy go?
Work done by lever on load
× 100%
Work done on lever by effort force
The higher the efficiency, the better the lever is at transferring energy.
A “perfect” machine would transfer all the work done by the effort
and would be 100 percent efficient. However, the efficiency of real
machines is always less than 100 percent. Why? Every time a machine
does work, some energy is lost because of friction. Think about a pair
of hedge trimmers. As you close the handles, the blades rub against
each other. If the blades are rusty, they will tend to stick even more.
You could summarize this situation by means of the following
word equation:
298 MHR • Mechanical Systems
Work done on a machine = Work done by the machine
+ energy lost as heat due to friction
Many machines can be made more efficient by reducing friction.
You can usually do this by adding a lubricant (such as oil or grease) to
surfaces that rub together, as shown in Figure 4.28. After a time, dirt
will build up on the grease or oil, and the lubricant will lose its
effectiveness. The dirty lubricant should be wiped off and replaced
with clean grease or oil.
Boosting Efficiency
You have seen that gears are modified wheel-and-axle machines. A gear
is simply a wheel with teeth along its circumference. Effort exerted on
one gear causes another gear to turn. The mechanical advantage of a
pair of gears is found by dividing the radius of the effort gear by the
radius of the load gear.
As you have learned, some of the effort force put into any
machine must overcome friction. For example, some of the
effort force you exert when you pedal a bike must overcome the friction of the pedal gear rubbing against the
bicycle chain. This reduces the efficiency of the bicycle.
Low-efficiency machines lose much of the work put
into them because of friction; high-efficiency machines
do not.
You can boost the efficiency of a machine such as a
bicycle. You have seen that you can increase efficiency
by adding a lubricant such as oil or grease to the surfaces
that rub together. If a bicycle’s chain, gears, and other moving parts are cleaned and lubricated periodically, the bike will
operate more efficiently. Also, keeping the tires properly inflated
will reduce friction between the road and the tires. Similarly, keeping
car tires properly inflated and changing the engine oil to keep it clean
will increase the efficiency of a car. A more efficiently running car gives
better gas mileage and saves both money and energy.
Figure 4.28 You can
improve a machine’s
efficiency by oiling parts
of it to reduce friction.
Useful Friction
Often we need friction for machines to work properly. If you did not
have any friction between bike tires and the ground, your bike would
slip. You would also slip if there were no friction between your running
shoes and the ground. Many sports and outdoor activities use friction
in a useful way. Baseball players and gymnasts rub a powder called
rosin on their hands to increase friction and improve their grip. Curlers
“sweep” the ice in front of their rock to decrease the friction, so that
the rock goes farther and straighter. Can you think of other places
where friction is useful? (Here’s a hint: What happens when you rub
your hands together?) Explore efficiency and friction further in the
next investigation.
If you have ever ridden a
bike that is poorly maintained you will know that
it is hard work fighting
friction. Inflating the tires
and oiling the moving
parts helps reduce friction. In your Science Log,
list some other ways you
could reduce friction for
a bicycle rider.
Energy, Friction, and Efficiency • MHR
Initiating and Planning
Performing and Recording
Analyzing and Interpreting
Communication and Teamwork
Easy Lifting
Industrial pulley systems are usually made up of many pulleys working
together. As you know, a combination of pulleys is called a compound pulley.
Do compound pulleys make lifting more efficient?
How can you calculate the mechanical advantage of a compound pulley?
How can you test the efficiency of a pulley system?
Form a hypothesis about how using compound pulleys affects the ability
to lift an object.
Safety Precautions
• Be very careful not to drop any
heavy weights.
10 N spring scale
1 kg mass
support stand, held firmly in place
2 single pulleys
• Have your teacher check your
apparatus before you make any
2 double pulleys
1 triple pulley
rope (at least 6 m)
Make a data table like this
one. Give your table a title.
Number of
every row of your table, in
the column labelled “Load.”
Suspend the mass on the
spring scale and observe the
weight. Record this value in
300 MHR • Mechanical Systems
Assemble the apparatus as
shown for Trial A above.
While supporting the load
with the spring scale, read
the amount of force shown
on the scale. Record this
number in the column of
your table labelled “Effort.”
Count the number of ropes
that are supporting the load
and record the number in
the column labelled
“Number of ropes.”
For tips on using a spreadsheet
program, turn to Skill Focus 9.
Repeat steps 3 and 4 for
trials B through E, shown
1. Make an analysis table with the following headings to
record the results of your calculations. Give your table a
Number of ropes
Mechanical advantage
2. For each trial, divide the weight of the load by the effort
force. Record this number in your table in the column
labelled “Mechanical advantage.”
3. For each trial, copy “Number of ropes” from your data table
to your analysis table.
4. What were the manipulating and responding variables in this
Conclude and Apply
5. Compare the mechanical advantage with the number of
ropes for every trial. What conclusion can you draw from
this comparison?
6. Determine the efficiency of the compound pulley in Trial E.
You can calculate efficiency using the same formula you used
previously for levers:
Efficiency =
Work done on load
× 100%
Work done by effort force
Remember that work equals force multiplied by distance. Thus,
you will need to repeat Trial E to measure how far the effort and
the load move. What is the efficiency of your pulley system?
Why is it less than 100 percent?
If you have access to a computer spreadsheet program, you may want to use it
for your data tables.
Energy, Friction, and Efficiency • MHR
1. Identify two places where energy was converted and two places where
energy has been transmitted in the following scene. Your clock radio
wakes you up at 7:00 a.m. and you turn on the bedside lamp. After a
quick shower, you eat a breakfast of cereal and toast, hop on your bike,
and ride to school.
2. (a) Define efficiency.
(b) What is the formula for calculating the efficiency of a
mechanical system?
3. Describe how a conveyor belt uses friction in a useful way. Give one
more example of a situation in which friction is applied in a useful way.
4. Design Your Own Write your own question about the efficient
operation of mechanical systems and design your own investigation to
explore possible answers. Be sure to identify responding and manipulated
variables, and to specify a control.
For tips on designing
your own experiment,
turn to Skill Focus 6.
A good ice skater can glide quickly across the ice with
only a little effort, because the small area and smooth
surface of the blades mean there is very little friction
between the ice and the skates. The pressure of the
blades on the ice melts the ice a bit. When the ice
melts, it leaves a thin film of water between the skate
blades and the ice. The water layer acts as a lubricant
and helps the blades slide smoothly across the ice
without sticking. Think of other ways in which friction
can be reduced in machines. Write your ideas in your
Science Log.
Does a lever always do as much work on the load as
you do on the lever? Suppose you have a summer
job trimming hedges. Someone leaves the hedgetrimming shears out in the rain, causing the bolt at
the joint to get rusty. The next time you trim the
hedge, you discover that you have to exert a much
greater force on the handles than you did before.
You are doing more work on the shears, but the
shears are doing the same amount of work on the
hedge that they did before the joint rusted. In your
Science Log, explain why this happens.
302 MHR • Mechanical Systems
If you need to check an item, Topic numbers are provided in brackets below.
Key Terms
Class 3 lever
inclined plane
work input
work output
mechanical advantage
effort force
effort arm
load arm
Class 1 lever
Class 2 lever
carpal tunnel
wheel and axle
gear train
Reviewing Key Terms
Copy the crossword puzzle into your notebook
and complete it using some key terms listed above.
compound pulley
potential energy
kinetic energy
12. The distance from the fulcrum to the load is
the load ______________. (1)
13. A hockey stick is this kind of lever. (1)
Understanding Key Concepts
driving gear (driver)
driven gear (follower)
speed ratio
fixed pulley
movable pulley
block and tackle
1. The unit for work. (1)
2. Its teeth fit into the links of a chain. (2)
3. A bottle opener is this kind of tool. (1)
4. The point where a lever does not move. (1)
5. Turn the handle of this machine and it
will pull on a cable and wrap it around a
cylinder. (2)
6. This gear turns another gear. (2)
7. Energy that causes something to move. (3)
8. The transfer of energy through motion. (3)
9. A wheel that turns and allows a rope to move
over it easily. (2)
10. A wheel with teeth. (2)
11. The percentage of work done on a machine
that the machine then does on the load. (3)
14. Which class of lever always has a mechanical
advantage that is less than 1? Give an example
of this type of lever. (1)
15. State at least three situations in which it
would be more practical to use a wheel and
axle rather than to use a lever. (2)
16. Explain how a winch is like a lever. (2)
17. Sketch a diagram showing how you could use
one single pulley and one double pulley to
gain a mechanical advantage of 3. (2)
18. Which of these does not describe what
a machine does? (1, 3)
(a) changes the effort force
(b) transforms energy
(c) changes the direction of a force
(d) does work
19. Describe as many ways as you can in which
a simple machine can make work easier.
(1, 2, 3)
20. Many machines, including levers, wheel-andaxle devices, and pulleys, exert a greater force
on a load than you exert on the machine.
What do you have to do in return for a
mechanical advantage that is greater than 1?
(1, 2, 3)
Wrap-up Topics 1–3 • MHR
Force, Pressure, and Area
As you learned in Unit 1, the force (F) acting over a certain area (A) is
called pressure (p). When you change the area and keep the force
constant, the pressure changes. This happens when you strap on snowshoes, for example. The force (your body’s weight) remains the same
with or without snowshoes. However, snowshoes increase the area over
which the force is spread. This reduces the pressure, so you stay on top
of the snow instead of sinking through it.
Use your understanding
of pressure, force, and
area to describe why the
head and point of a nail
are shaped as they are.
Why is it easier to slice
food using a sharp knife,
rather than a dull one?
Write your answers in
your Science Log.
Calculating Pressure
The equation for pressure is written as: Pressure = Force or p = F
Recall that force is measured in newtons (N) and area is measured in
square metres (m2 ). The unit for pressure, therefore, is newtons per
square metres (N/m2). This unit is also called a pascal (Pa). A kilopascal
(kPa) is equal to 1000 Pa. How does popping a balloon with a pin
demonstrate this equation? Try the next activity to find out.
Find Out
Pop ’em Quick!
Suppose you were in a contest to see who
could pop the greatest number of balloons in
1 min. What could you do to pop the balloons
as quickly as possible?
3. Repeat step 2 using a pencil instead of
your finger.
4. Repeat step 2 using the straight pin
instead of your finger.
3 balloons
straight pin
Safety Precautions
Be careful when using sharp objects such as
straight pins.
Wear goggles to protect your eyes from pieces
of flying balloon.
Performing and Recording
1. Blow up the balloons to approximately the
same size. Knot the end of each one.
2. Set one balloon on a table. Push your
index finger into the balloon until it pops.
(You may need to steady the balloon with
your other hand.)
304 MHR • Mechanical Systems
What Did You Find Out?
Analyzing and Interpreting
1. Which method required less force to pop
the balloon? Which method was faster?
2. Which “popping tool” had the smaller
surface area: your finger, the pencil, or the
straight pin?
3. Which popping method required more
Calculate the difference
in the pressure placed on
snow if you were standing in the snow on one
snowshoe compared to
standing in the snow in
one boot. Assume that
the area of a snowshoe
is 0.20 m2 and the area
of a boot is 0.05 m2.
Figure 4.29 How can the man lie on this bed of nails and not injure himself? While lying on a
bed of nails may sound painful, can you imagine lying on a single nail? Which would hurt more?
On the bed of nails, the force of the man’s weight is spread over a larger area. Thus, although
the nails may poke a bit, the man’s feat isn’t life-threatening.
Equipped Against Pressure
Before a game, football players spend a lot of time strapping on
protective equipment. Helmets, chest protectors, and shoulder pads all
help spread any force — such as a powerful tackle — over a larger area.
This equipment helps lessen the force of a blow and therefore the
potential for injury. You wear safety equipment when you in-line skate
for the same reason.
If your head weighs
about 50 N and you are
travelling at 30 km/h,
your head will exert
about 150 N of force in
a collision. Using mathematical calculations,
show if it is better to
hit an air bag rather than
to hit the dashboard.
Assume that your face
has an area of 300 cm2.
If you do not use an air
bag, assume that the
area of your forehead
that might hit the dashboard is 3 cm2.
Figure 4.30 Each of these safety objects protects people based on concepts you have learned in
this section. Describe how each item works.
Force, Pressure, and Area • MHR
Initiating and Planning
Performing and Recording
Analyzing and Interpreting
Communication and Teamwork
Egg Drop!
You have seen how safety equipment has been designed to spread a force over a
large area. Now, design and build your own structure that will protect a raw egg
when it is dropped.
Design and build a structure that will protect a raw egg and prevent it from
breaking when you drop it from a height of 2 m.
Plan and Construct
With your group, predict what arrangement
of straws might protect your egg and prevent
it from breaking. Use your knowledge of
pressure, force, and area.
Build and test your design.
Clean up the equipment and your work area
after you have completed this investigation.
1. Use your knowledge of force, pressure,
and area to write an explanation of why
your design worked, or why it failed.
Safety Precaution
50 drinking straws
raw egg
masking tape
Design Specifications
2. How could you modify and improve
your design?
Extend Your Skills
1. How could you calculate the force exerted
by the egg on your straw structure?
2. Compare how your structure works to
the way a car bumper works.
A. You cannot use more than 50 straws and 1 m
of masking tape.
B. Drop your egg and its protective structure
from a height of 2 m.
C. Your structure must prevent the egg from
306 MHR • Mechanical Systems
For tips on conducting fair tests and experiments, turn to
Skill Focus 6.
Scientists in the Antarctic often receive supplies by having
them dropped out of passing aircraft. One plane dropped
100 dozen individually bubble-wrapped eggs and no eggs
Pascal’s Law
Have you ever squeezed a water-filled balloon? Did you notice
how the walls of the balloon bulged out in all directions?
Squeezing a water-filled balloon demonstrates Pascal’s law.
Pascal’s law states that pressure exerted on a contained fluid
is transmitted undiminished in all directions throughout the fluid
and perpendicular to the walls of the container. French physician
and scientist Blaise Pascal (1623–1662) first observed that the
shape of a container has no effect on the pressure at any given
depth (see Figure 4.31).
Many mechanical systems use Pascal’s law. Figure 4.32 shows one
such system: the hydraulic lift. A hydraulic lift is a mechanical system
that raises heavy objects, such as a vehicle on a service station lift. A
hydraulic lift uses a fluid under pressure in a closed system. A
closed system is a self-contained collection of parts. Your body’s
circulatory system is an example of a closed hydraulic system. Your
heart pumps blood to all the cells of the body and back to the heart
through a continuous network of blood vessels that are directly
connected to one another.
As the illustration in Figure 4.32A shows, a hydraulic lift consists of a
small cylinder and a large cylinder. The cylinders are connected by a
pipe. Each cylinder is filled with a hydraulic fluid, usually oil. (Water is
not used in a hydraulic lift for two reasons — it is not a good lubricant,
and it can cause parts of a system to rust.) Note that each cylinder also
has a type of platform, or piston, that rests on the surface of the oil.
Figure 4.32B shows a forklift that uses hydraulic pressure.
Figure 4.32A In this hydraulic lift, pressure
applied to a small piston is transmitted to a
large piston by means of a hydraulic fluid.
Figure 4.31 Pascal’s vases
show that a container’s
shape has no effect on
Every time you
squeeze out some
toothpaste, you are
applying Pascal’s law!
You can squeeze anywhere on the tube and
get the same result.
Figure 4.32B Powered hydraulically, this
forklift can move very large containers.
Force, Pressure, and Area • MHR
Suppose you apply 500 N of force to the small piston with an area of
5cm2. The pressure on the small piston is expressed in the following
equation. Recall that pressure (p) is force (F ) divided by the area (A)
over which the force is acting.
p= F
= 500 N
5 cm2
= 100 N/cm2
Pascal’s law states that this pressure is transmitted unchanged
throughout the liquid. Therefore, the large piston will also have a
pressure of 100 N/cm2 applied to it. However, the total area of the
large piston is greater than the area of the small piston. The large
piston’s area is 50 cm2. Thus, the total force on the large piston is
100 N/cm2 × 50 cm2 = 5000 N. This is ten times the force applied to
the small piston. Using this hydraulic machine, you could use your
own weight to lift something ten times as heavy as you are!
In Unit 2, you learned that the pascal (Pa) is the standard unit of
pressure. One pascal of pressure is a force of one newton per square
metre. This is a small pressure unit, so most pressures are given in
kilopascals (kPa).
To sum up, a hydraulic lift uses a liquid to produce a large force on a
load when a small effort force is exerted on the liquid. Because a small
effort force produces a large force on a load, a hydraulic lift provides a
mechanical advantage.
Pascal’s Law and Mechanical Advantage
Study Figure 4.33. Note that the area of the small piston of the
hydraulic lift is 1 unit. If you push down on the piston with a force of
10 N, you will generate a pressure in the fluid by 10 N per unit of area.
Now examine the area of the large piston. There are nine squares.
Each square has the same area as the small piston. According to Pascal’s
law, the pressure on every unit of area on that piston will be 10 N.
Since there are 9 units of area, the total force on the large piston will be:
10 N × 9 unit areas = 90 N
unit area
small force
applied here
large force
transmitted here
Figure 4.33 This simplified
diagram of a hydraulic lift
shows how a small effort
force can produce a large
force on a load.
308 MHR • Mechanical Systems
By exerting 10 N of effort force, you could cause the large piston to
exert 90 N of force on a load. Thus, the hydraulic lift provides a
mechanical advantage. As you learned in Topic 1, mechanical advantage
is the load divided by the effort force:
MA = Load force
Effort force
= 90 N
10 N
This hydraulic lift has a mechanical advantage of 9. However,
remember that you would have to push the piston nine times farther
than the distance you could lift the load. You would have to increase
the effort distance because the work done on the small piston must be
at least as great as the work done on the load. (Recall that work equals
force multiplied by distance.)
For example, suppose you wanted to lift a 90 N load a distance of
2 m using the hydraulic lift in Figure 4.33. Approximately how far
would you have to push the piston as you exert your effort force? You
could find out by doing the following calculations (note the formula
for work):
When you squeeze
mustard out of a plastic
container, the mustard
comes out of a small
opening, but spreads
out over a larger area so
that it coats a hamburger.
Explain why this happens
using your understanding
of Pascal’s law. Write
your explanation in your
Science Log.
W =F•d
W (effort) = 10 N • d (effort)
W (load) = 90 N • 2 m
W (effort) = W (load)
10 N • d (effort) = 180 J
d (effort) =
180 J
10 N
= 18 m
To lift a 90 N load a distance of 2 m using the hydraulic lift, you
would have to push the piston 18 m. This effort distance is nine times
the load distance.
Figure 4.34 This “cherry
picker” uses hydraulic
pistons combined with
levers to move the “bucket”
over large distances.
Examine the picture and see
if you can explain how this
is possible.
Force, Pressure, and Area • MHR
Initiating and Planning
Performing and Recording
Analyzing and Interpreting
Communication and Teamwork
What a Lift!
small piston
large piston
mass: 40 kg
mass: 1200 kg
area of small
piston: 0.5 m2
area of large
piston: ?
Think About It
In a hydraulic lift, how large a piston would you
need to lift a minivan? Imagine you are standing
on one piston of a hydraulic lift and a minivan is
on the other piston. The area of your piston is
0.5 m2. Suppose you have a mass of 40 kg and the
minivan has a mass of 1200 kg. How large must
the other piston be to lift the minivan?
Recall that mass is measured in grams (g)
and kilograms (kg). Weight, which is a force, is
measured in newtons (N). A kilogram of mass on
Earth’s surface weighs 10 N.
What to Do
Estimate the size of the large piston in the
hydraulic lift. Think of an area that is about
the same size as the large piston. What is the
area of your kitchen table? Of your bedroom
floor? Of your living room? Of your
classroom? Which area do you estimate is
closest to the area of the large piston in the
hydraulic lift?
310 MHR • Mechanical Systems
Study the diagram, then calculate the area
of the large piston. (Hint: Remember that the
ratio of the two masses is the same as the ratio
of the two areas of the pistons.)
1. What result did you get when you calculated the area of the piston supporting the
minivan? How close was your estimate to
this result?
2. Do you think that this design for a
hydraulic lift is practical? Explain
your answer.
To review estimating, turn to Skill Focus 5.
Initiating and Planning
Performing and Recording
Analyzing and Interpreting
Communication and Teamwork
Build Your Own
Hydraulic Lift
Now that you understand how a hydraulic lift
operates, design and build your own working
model of one. Use your knowledge of Pascal’s
law and mechanical advantage to help you with
your design.
Design and build a model of a hydraulic lift that
will exert a large force on a load when you exert
a small force on the lift.
Safety Precautions
10 mL modified syringe
50 mL modified syringe
(the plungers of both
syringes must slide freely)
narrow plastic tubing
1 kg mass
250 g mass
variety of smaller masses
2 wood squares
(5 cm x 5 cm)
2 support stands
4 stopcocks or clamps
glue gun
Design Specifications
A. Your model hydraulic lift must exert a force
in one place when you exert a force in a
different place.
B. There must be no air bubbles in the tubing
and in the syringes.
C. Your model hydraulic lift must provide an
observable mechanical advantage.
Plan and Construct
With your group, predict what arrangement
might allow you to balance the 250 g and 1 kg
masses on the two modified syringes. Test
your prediction. CAUTION Place the masses
carefully on the wood platform each time, so
that they do not fall off the work surface onto
your foot. Also, the glue gun is hot and the
glue remains hot for several minutes.
Predict what arrangement might allow you to
raise the 1 kg mass using the least amount of
force. Test this prediction as well.
Wipe up any spilled water after this
1. Did your model hydraulic lift produce a
mechanical advantage? How could you tell?
2. Suppose you need to raise a 1 kg mass
using an even smaller force. How could
you modify your model hydraulic lift to
achieve this?
Extend Your Skills
1. How could you calculate the work done
by your effort force?
2. How could you find out the pressure exerted by the water in the modified syringes?
Force, Pressure, and Area • MHR
1. Explain the difference between force and pressure.
2. Pressure is measured in pascals (Pa). What combination of units is the
same as a pascal?
3. When you exert force on a fluid in a closed container, does the pressure
increase, decrease, or remain constant?
4. State Pascal’s law.
5. In a drawing, show how to set up a model hydraulic system with a
mechanical advantage of 4.
6. Explain how a thumbtack is designed so that you do not have to use a
lot of force to push it through paper or the surface of a bulletin board.
7. Design Your Own You have been given the task of testing the effectiveness of a new style of football helmet. What characteristics might affect
the strength of the helmet? Make a hypothesis related to one of these
characteristics and design an experiment to test your hypothesis. Identify
which variable(s) will change for your experiment, and which will remain
constant. List criteria for assessing your solution.
312 MHR • Mechanical Systems
Hydraulics and Pneumatics
When you squeeze a water bottle, you apply a force that pushes water
out of the bottle. There is air and water in a water bottle and when you
squeeze it, hydraulic and pneumatic systems are at work.
Hydraulic systems use the force of a liquid in a confined space,
such as an oil pipeline. Hydraulic systems apply two essential characteristics of fluids — their incompressibility and their ability to transmit
pressure. The hydraulic lift you built in Topic 4 is an example of
hydraulic systems.
Pneumatic systems do not seal the gas — usually air — in a
mechanical system in the same way that hydraulic machines seal in
hydraulic fluid. Usually the air passes through the pneumatic device
under high pressure and then escapes outside the device. The highpressure air may come from a machine that draws in outside air and
compresses it. Hoses then carry the high-pressure air to the pneumatic
device. Do the gases in pneumatic systems and the liquids in hydraulic
systems behave differently when you exert pressure on them? Find out
in the next investigation.
Ask an Expert
To meet firefighter
Randy Segboer, who
uses hydraulics and
pneumatics at work,
turn to page 352.
Figure 4.35 Firefighters are using the hydraulically powered
Jaws of Life to rescue an accident victim from a crushed car.
Above the photo are three types of tools used in the Jaws of
Life (from left to right): spreaders, rams, and cutters.
Figure 4.36 Inflatable walkways are examples of
pneumatic systems. Inflatable walkways help workers
reach accident victims and carry them to safety.
Hydraulics and Pneumatics • MHR
Initiating and Planning
Performing and Recording
Analyzing and Interpreting
Communication and Teamwork
Comparing Pressure Exerted
on a Gas and on a Liquid
You know that some mechanical devices use pneumatic systems and others
use hydraulic systems. How do engineers decide which system to use?
What happens when you exert the same amount of pressure on a gas and
on a liquid?
Will the results be the same or different if you exert the same amount of pressure
on a gas and on a liquid? Make a prediction and test it in this investigation.
Safety Precautions
2 modified syringes (the plungers of
both syringes must slide freely)
2 wood squares (5 cm x 5 cm)
2 masses (500 g each)
plastic dishpan
stopwatch or watch with a
second hand
support stand
felt tip pen
glue gun
Note: Your teacher will glue the wood squares to the plungers
ahead of time so the glue will have time to dry.
Fill one syringe with water.
Turn it upside down over
the dishpan and press the
plunger until all of the air
is gone.
314 MHR • Mechanical Systems
Close the stopcock.
Assemble the apparatus
as shown. Leave air in the
second syringe. Adjust the
plunger so that it is at the
same position as the plunger
in the water-filled syringe.
(a) Close the stopcock,
making sure that all the
connections are airtight.
Place a 500 g mass on top
of each syringe. Observe
the new positions of the
plungers. CAUTION Place
the masses carefully on the
wood platforms so that they
do not fall off the work
surface onto your foot.
(b) Wipe up any spilled
Before you open the stopcocks, make a prediction.
Will the time it takes for
each of the plungers to reach
the bottom of the syringes
be the same or different?
Open the stopcocks one at a
time and record the time it
takes for each of the
plungers to reach the
bottom of the syringe. Wipe
up any spilled water after
this investigation.
1. What happened when you put the mass on top of the
water-filled syringe?
2. Was the result the same or different when you put the mass
on the air-filled syringe?
3. Did one modified syringe empty faster than the other when
you opened the stopcock? If so, which one emptied faster?
Observe the positions of
the two plungers. Mark the
positions of the plungers
with a felt tip pen.
4. What were the manipulated and responding variables in this
investigation? Which variables were controlled?
Conclude and Apply
5. What property of liquids did you demonstrate in this
investigation? What property of gases did you demonstrate?
Use the term “viscosity,” which you learned in Unit 2, to
explain your observation in question 3.
6. Write a statement that summarizes and compares how gases
and liquids respond to pressure.
Hydraulics and Pneumatics • MHR
Pneumatics at Work
Using air pressure of
about 620 000 Pa, more
than 5.5 m3 of air flow
through a jackhammer
every minute.
In a dictionary, look up
the origin of the word
Pneumatic devices are used all around us. A common example is the
jackhammer (see Figures 4.37 and 4.38). You have probably heard the
extremely loud noise of a jackhammer breaking up concrete when a
sidewalk or a road is being repaired. Jackhammers are also used in the
mining of coal, nickel, and gold. Bursts of air, under very high pressure,
drive a part called a “chuck” in and out of the jackhammer at high
speeds. Resembling a very large screwdriver, the chuck pounds the
rocks or concrete into fragments.
air inlet
Figure 4.37 Cross section of a jackhammer
Figure 4.38 Every time you hear the ear-
splitting sound produced by a jackhammer,
you are hearing compressed air at work.
Dentist's Drill
The high-speed drill that dentists currently use is a pneumatic
instrument that relies on pressurized air. The cutaway diagram
on the right shows how a dentist’s drill works. This technology
has led to almost pain-free dentistry.
What does the future hold? A newly invented machine that drills
teeth with a high-powered jet of water will make life easier for
dentists — and for patients. The device, called the Millennium,
works by pumping a jet of water at the teeth. The droplets of water
are split by a laser into tiny particles. As these hit the enamel, they
exert enough force to grind the tooth. This technology means there
is no noise from a drill and no heat.
316 MHR • Mechanical Systems
air outlet
air inlet
Figure 4.39 Air pressure makes this
staple gun work.
Figure 4.40A Before sandblasting
Figure 4.40B After sandblasting
Staple guns and pneumatic nailers use pulses of air pressure to drive
staples or nails into solid objects. Staple guns are used in making
furniture, woodworking, upholstering, and many other applications.
Pneumatic nailers can even nail wood to concrete. A staple gun is
shown in Figure 4.39.
Sandblasters do exactly what the name implies. High-pressure air
blasts tiny sand particles out of a nozzle. Sandblasting is an excellent
way to remove dirt and paint from stone or brick. Old, dirty buildings
or statues can be made to look new, as shown in Figures 4.40A and B.
Can you imagine sanding a large stone building with sandpaper?
Besides improving appearances, sandblasting is also used for practical
applications. For example, slippery granite or marble stairs can be made
safer by being sandblasted. Sandblasting roughens the edges of the
stairs to increase friction. The friction, in turn, prevents people from
slipping on a step.
Continue to search the Internet for information about
mechanical systems, but start adding pneumatic devices to your
list. Visit the above web site. Go to Science Resources, then to
SCIENCEFOCUS 8 to find out where to go next. Each class member can
look for at least one type of pneumatic equipment (other than the
ones presented in this textbook) and present an oral or
written report to the class. See what unusual
devices you can find!
Figure 4.41 This “air
cast” is used for both
sprains and fractures.
The photograph above shows another application of pneumatics.
Medical engineers have developed a type of cast filled with pressurized
air. A solid frame with a balloonlike lining is fitted to the injured leg.
High-pressure air is pumped into the lining through a hose. Because
the air pressure can be controlled precisely, the cast can be made to fit
snugly and securely.
In your Science Log,
describe how some
modern sports shoes are
similar to an air cast.
Hydraulics and Pneumatics • MHR
Riding on Air
Figure 4.42 shows a Canadian Coast Guard hovercraft used primarily
for rescue operations. Hovercraft also transport people, cars, and
equipment long distances over land or water.
Figure 4.42 Hovercraft are used not only for rescue operations but also for routine travel.
In a hovercraft, powerful pumps draw in outside air and pump it out
through holes in the bottom of the hovercraft (see Figure 4.43). A
“skirt” around the bottom holds in enough air to support the weight of
the craft above water or land. Given enough air pressure, a hovercraft
can support extremely heavy loads. Propellers drive the hovercraft forward, and rudders are used to steer it.
lift fan (sucks air into
the hovercraft)
air under pressure
cushion of air
water or ground
Figure 4.43 A hovercraft rides on a cushion of air.
318 MHR • Mechanical Systems
Build a Model Hovercraft
See if you can send a miniature hovercraft
skimming across a table.
Safety Precautions
empty thread spool
glue gun
Find Out
5. Using a pencil, punch a hole in the middle
of the paper circle to line up with the hole
of the spool.
6. Blow up the balloon and twist the neck.
Stretch the mouth of the balloon over the
top of the spool. Let the balloon go and
give your hovercraft a nudge.
What Did You Find Out?
Analyzing and Interpretin
What are some ways that you could change
your hovercraft design to make it go farther?
Performing and Recording
1. Cut out a 10 cm square from the cardboard and use a pencil to punch a hole in
the centre of the square. The hole should
be the same size as the hole in the empty
thread spool. CAUTION Be careful when
using sharp objects such as scissors and
when punching the cardboard with a
pencil. Also, the glue gun is hot and the
glue remains hot for several minutes.
2. Glue the empty spool on top of the hole in
the cardboard so that the holes line up.
3. Using the glue gun, seal the base of the
thread spool so that no air can escape.
4. Cut out a circle of paper and glue it onto
the top of the thread spool.
There are many types of hovercrafts, or air-cushion vehicles. These
machines are used for many different purposes. Create a database with information about at least three different hovercrafts. Include data on how large they are,
how much weight they can carry, where they are designed to run, and how fast they can
go. As well, include information about any special features each hovercraft may have.
What features do all of these hovercrafts have in common? What features are different?
Do different types of hovercrafts have different overall designs? Visit the above
web site and go to Science Resources. Then go to SCIENCEFOCUS 8
to find out where to go next.
For tips on creating
a database, turn to
Skill Focus 9.
Hydraulics and Pneumatics • MHR
Hydraulics at Work
Have you ever seen a bulldozer clearing an area to build new homes?
You may have seen a backhoe digging a trench for a new water line or a
sewer pipe. Have you ever watched a “cherry picker” in action? Perhaps
you’ve seen a farmer driving a tractor in a field. In all these cases, you
were watching hydraulic equipment at work.
Figure 4.44A This student is training
Figure 4.44B Why do you think
Figure 4.44C This backhoe is digging up
to become a heavy equipment operator.
Here, she is learning how to operate an
earth mover.
this farm equipment is called a
“bi-directional tractor”?
a lawn to install a gas pipe. (To see a
diagram showing how a backhoe works,
turn to page 327.)
For tips on doing
Internet research, turn
to Skill Focus 9.
Unlike the simple hydraulic systems you have explored so far, the
huge machines shown in Figure 4.44 A, B, and C are not operated by
plungers that workers push manually! Instead, the machines contain
tanks filled with hydraulic fluid and pumps that generate pressure. In
most hydraulic equipment, the energy for pumping is supplied by a
gasoline engine or by an electric motor. Valves direct the high-pressure
fluid through steel pipes to the parts of the machine where the pressure
of the fluid is needed to generate large forces to lift or to dig. Often the
steering and braking systems in large machines are powered by the
high-pressure hydraulic fluid as well.
As a class project, start an Internet search for as many types of
hydraulic equipment as you can find. Visit the above web site. Go to Science
Resources, then to SCIENCEFOCUS 8 to find out where to go next. Decide how you
want to keep track of all the machines and instruments that you find. You could
create a bulletin board display, a poster, or a trade magazine entitled
Popular Hydraulics. (Use a library if you do not have
access to the Internet.)
320 MHR • Mechanical Systems
Hydraulics in Flight
When an airplane such as the one shown in Figure 4.45A taxis along a
runway, the pilot steers the plane using the nose wheel. During takeoff,
the pilot may lower the flaps. To make a turn while airborne, the pilot
moves the ailerons up or down and adjusts the rudder. To keep the
plane level, the pilot adjusts the elevators. Landing a plane is a multisystem process. The pilot uses hydraulics to lower the flaps and slats to
slow the aircraft during the approach before landing. The pilot then
uses hydraulics to raise the spoilers when the aircraft touches down.
The spoilers prevent the wing from lifting the aircraft again.
airplane wing
Figure 4.45A The various parts of an airplane wing are raised and lowered
hydraulically when the pilot lands the plane.
Figure 4.46 These aircraft
have three separate
hydraulic systems, as
well as an emergency
backup system.
airplane tail
Figure 4.45B Hydraulics are responsible for tail adjustments that enable the pilot to turn the
plane while airborne.
Every mechanical system mentioned in the paragraph above is powered
by hydraulics (see Figures 4.45A and B). The precise designs of the
hydraulic systems are different for different models of aircraft, but the
basic principles are the same.
Each airplane in Figure 4.46 is an Airbus A340. The Airbus A340 has
three separate hydraulic systems: the green system, the blue system,
and the yellow system. If one system malfunctions, there are one or
two other systems to back it up. For example, the green and yellow
systems both control the flaps. The green and blue systems control the
slats. All three systems control the ailerons.
Hydraulics and Pneumatics • MHR
The green system relies on fluid pressure generated by engines 1 and 4.
The blue system relies on fluid pressure generated by engine 2, and the
yellow system relies on pressure from engine 3. If an engine fails, additional backup motors provide pressure for the hydraulic systems. What
happens if all the systems fail? Could the pilot still control the guidance
systems? The answer is yes. An emergency air-driven generator drops
out from a door in the bottom of the plane. As shown in Figure 4.47,
this generator resembles a fan. It has a propeller that spins when outside air strikes it. Since jets travel at tremendous speeds, the air turns
the propeller extremely rapidly. This rapid turning motion generates
alternative power to supply the hydraulic systems.
generator door
Figure 4.47 If hydraulic pressure in an Airbus A340 fails, an airdriven generator drops down from a door in the bottom of the
plane. The air rushing past turns the blades of the generator,
which produces both electricity and fluid pressure.
Heavy-Duty Work
Merritt Shilling is a heavy equipment operator. He knows
how to operate everything from a huge excavator to a small
bulldozer safely and efficiently. These specialized vehicles
often have a separate control for each hand and as many as
three foot pedals. Learning how to control several mechanical
systems at once takes special training. Merritt got his training
on the job and temporarily moved to a larger community for
the experience he wanted. His career path looks something
like this:
• completed high school
• cleared snow using a truck with an attached plow
• worked for a landscaper driving tractors and bulldozers
• worked for a large metal company driving huge forklifts
and other equipment
• returned to his Native community and now works for local
contractors driving whatever equipment each job requires
To become a heavy equipment operator, you could attend a
privately run heavy equipment school. You could also
complete a college course in truck driving or in heavy
equipment mechanics, or work with an experienced operator
as an apprentice.
322 MHR • Mechanical Systems
Locate someone in your community who works as a heavy
equipment operator, or contact a spokesperson for your
province’s workers’ compensation board (check the provincial government pages in the telephone book). Ask about the
safety issues related to this type of work. What safety gear
must be worn on the job? For example, is ear protection
necessary? What are the most common risk situations that
could arise, and how can these risks be reduced? How can
an operator prevent accidents from occurring? Present
answers to these or other questions in a brief oral or
written in-class report.
Hydraulics and Pneumatics in Your Body
Did you know that your life depends on a pneumatic system? The
respiratory system in your body is more complex than any pneumatic
machinery. As you learned in Unit 1, this system is made up of lungs;
tubes that allow air to enter and leave the lungs; and muscles that cause
your lungs to expand and contract. Breathing depends on changes in air
pressure. When you are breathing normally, your muscles make your
lungs expand and draw in about 500 mL of air. Simply relaxing will
push the air back out. You breathe in and out about 12 times per
minute. When you are active, like the girls in Figure 4.48, you breathe
more quickly and more deeply.
Your body also depends on a complex hydraulic system. In Unit 1,
you learned that blood must be kept under pressure so that it can be
pumped to all parts of your body. Your heart is the pump that moves
blood through the blood vessels with pressure that rises and falls. Like
the rhythmic squeezing of the water bottle, each time your heart beats,
it exerts a force on your blood and pushes it along. In Unit 2, you
learned that blood pressure is exerted by blood against the inner walls
of arteries and, to a lesser extent, capillaries.
Your heart is an amazing hydraulic device. Over the course of a
lifetime, it can pump nearly 4 billion times without stopping, and it can
circulate a total of nearly 500 million litres of fluid. Throughout your
lifetime, your heart will pump enough blood to fill 13 supertankers,
each holding one million barrels!
When blood leaves the left ventricle, it travels first through arteries,
then capillaries, and finally veins, before it returns to your heart.
Figure 4.49 shows how the arteries become smaller and smaller until
they are tiny, thin-walled capillaries through which oxygen and waste
products pass easily.
If you lived for 85
years and breathed
normally, how much
air would you breathe
in and out of
your lungs?
If the blood vessels in
your body were connected end to end, they
would extend almost
100 000 km. That is two
and a half times around
the planet Earth!
Figure 4.49 The aorta, the largest
artery, branches into smaller and
smaller arteries that lead to
capillaries, which are tiny vessels
that carry blood to every part of
the body.
The diameter of the largest blood vessel in your body is just under
2 cm. The smallest vessels, the capillaries, are less than 0.0001 cm in
diameter. It takes a great deal of pressure to push a fluid through tubes
with small diameters, such as capillaries.
Figure 4.48 During
strenuous activity, your
breathing quickens
and deepens.
Hydraulics and Pneumatics • MHR
Valves and Pumps
Recall that pressure is transmitted equally throughout a fluid. What
happens when the pressure is reduced in one area? If you are holding
an inflated balloon closed, the pressure inside is equal throughout the
balloon. When you release your fingers, the pressure in the neck of the
balloon is reduced and the fluid (air) comes rushing out.
Something similar happens when you turn on a tap. The pressure on
one side of the tap is greater than the pressure on the other side. The
fluid (water) moves from the side of high pressure to the side of low
In both of these situations a valve is used to control the fluid. A valve
is a movable part that controls the flow of a fluid by opening or closing.
Your fingers are the valve when you hold the balloon closed. The tap is
the valve in the water pipe. These are both manually operated valves.
In other situations, valves can be made to operate automatically using
the pressure that the valve is controlling. Many pumps use automatic
valves controlled by pressure to move fluids in a specific direction. The
valve is pushed open by pressure on one side and will close if the pressure becomes greater on the other side of the valve. Did you know you
have valves in the large veins in your body that operate in this way?
toward heart
valve open;
blood passes
valve closed;
keeps blood
from flowing
muscle contracts,
squeezing vein
Figure 4.50 When muscles surrounding veins contract, they squeeze the veins.
This forces the blood within the veins to move forward under pressure.
324 MHR • Mechanical Systems
Your heart is actually two pumps, which circulate your blood
throughout the arteries and capillaries in your body. The heart uses
four automatic valves to circulate the blood. Blood pressure increases
and decreases between heartbeats. Immediately after the heart
contracts, a surge of blood causes high pressure in the arteries. Then,
before the next heartbeat, the pressure falls, only to increase again at
the next contraction.
An average human heart
beats about 72 times each
minute. If you live to be
85 years old, how many
times would your heart
beat in your lifetime?
to body
left atrium
valves between
the atria and
ventricles close
valves between
the atria and
ventricles open
left ventricle
ventricle walls contract
ventricle walls relax
Figure 4.51 The heart uses four automatic valves to circulate the blood. A. When the ventricles
contract, the valves to the arteries are opened, and the valves between the atria and the
ventricles are closed. This forces blood into the arteries. B. When the ventricles relax and the
atria contract, the valves to the arteries are closed, and the valves between the atria and the
ventricles are opened.
For tips on using
models in science, turn
to Skill Focus 12.
1. Contrast the responses of gases and liquids to pressure.
2. List four instruments or machines that use hydraulics.
3. Describe one important difference between the use of gases in pneumatic
systems and the use of liquids in hydraulic systems.
4. Give four examples of pneumatic devices.
5. Use sketches and labels to show (a) how a hovercraft uses pneumatic
systems, and (b) how an airplane uses hydraulic systems.
6. Apply Rescue workers often use inflatable airbags to free people
trapped under heavy objects. Use simple, readily available materials to
design a model that shows how an inflatable airbag could be used to lift
a heavy object.
Hydraulics and Pneumatics • MHR
Flip through some old
magazines or catalogues
and find two machines
that use three or more
subsystems. Cut out the
pictures and paste them
in your Science Log.
Label the various
Combining Systems
When you look under the hood of a car, such as the one shown in
Figure 4.52A, do you say to yourself, “Now there is a simple machine!”?
Most likely, you would not. What is a simple machine? A single lever, a
pulley, or a wheel and axle is a simple machine. However, when you put
simple machines together, you do not call them simple. Most modern
machines are combinations of dozens or even hundreds of simple
machines working together to carry out a precise function. When a
simple machine is part of a large system, we call it a subsystem. When
you look at a large machine, it is often hard to see, or even imagine,
how all of the subsystems work. However, when you concentrate only
on a small part of the whole system, the workings of the machine
become clearer. The braking system in a car is a good example of a
system that you can analyze easily.
The braking system shown in Figure 4.52B is known as “disc
brakes.” The brake pedal subsystem is a Class 2 lever. The force of the
driver’s foot on the brake pedal is the effort force. The load is the force
on a piston that applies pressure on the brake fluid in the master cylinder. As the driver pushes down harder on the brake pedal, the effort
force increases the pressure transmitted in the brake fluid. From the
master cylinder, brake fluid flows through tubes that branch out to
every wheel. The illustration shows the final action at each wheel.
The brake fluid exerts pressure on brake pads that press on a disc. The
friction between the brake pads and the disc slows and eventually stops
the car.
brake fluid
master cylinder
wheel cylinder
brake pad
brake pedal
disc (attached to wheel)
Figure 4.52A How many different simple machines can you
see under this hood? How many more simple machines are in
other parts of the car? Would you say there are hundreds of
simple machines making up this car?
326 MHR • Mechanical Systems
Figure 4.52B The pressure of the driver’s foot on a brake pedal
is transmitted by fluid pressure to the wheels of the car.
Figure 4.53 shows another example of a highly efficient combination of
levers and hydraulics, the backhoe. Also known as an excavator, a backhoe is a rotating combination of three levers. These three levers are
called the boom, the dipper, and the bucket. As the diagram shows, this
rotating assembly of levers is mounted on caterpillar tracks. The
assembly swings around on a gear-like part called a slew ring. Powered
by hydraulics, the three levers combine to place the bucket in any position. The boom is a Class 3 lever that raises or lowers the dipper. The
dipper is a Class 1 lever that moves the bucket in and out. The bucket
itself is a Class 1 lever that tilts to dig a hole and then empty its load of
dirt or other material.
Looking Ahead
Hang on to the magazines and catalogues
you looked through for
the Pause & Reflect on
page 326. Look for pictures of a tool you
might want to adapt for
the Project, “Adapting
Tools” on page 354.
slew ring
caterpillar tracks
Figure 4.53B Can you see
two hydraulic devices on
this backhoe?
Figure 4.53A A backhoe is a rotating assembly of three levers combined with a hydraulic system.
Search the Internet for machines that combine two or more subsystems. Visit the above web site, and go to Science Resources. Then go
to SCIENCEFOCUS 8 to find out where to go next. What machine combines a
wheel and axle with a hydraulic system? Some pneumatic systems work
in combination with levers. See how many combined
subsystems you can find.
Combining Systems • MHR
How Silly Can It Be?
Think About It
Are machines always practical? Sometimes
mechanical systems are designed just for the fun
of it. In the twentieth century, the cartoonist
Rube Goldberg drew many pictures of ridiculously
elaborate machines for doing everyday tasks, often
with unexpected parts like old boots or broomsticks. His cartoons became so popular that
“overdesigned” and accident-prone machines in
real life are still called “Rube Goldberg™ devices.”
Look at the Rube Goldberg™-type device in
this picture. Could a machine like this work if
you built it?
What to Do
Try to figure out, step by step, how the device
in the picture works. Which step do you think
is the most likely not to work?
Now design your own Rube Goldberg™-type
device on paper. It might open a door when
someone rings the bell, stir a cooking pot,
dress someone in a hat and scarf, or even do
several tasks at once. Make sure your design
328 MHR • Mechanical Systems
has at least four distinct steps, and try to use as
many different types of machines — levers,
winches, pulleys, ramps, wheels and axles,
pneumatic or hydraulic systems — as you can.
1. List the different kinds of machines in your
device, in order of use.
2. Describe in writing how your device
works, step by step.
3. Exchange your written description with a
partner, and see if your partner can follow
the operation of your device.
4. Apply After receiving your teacher’s
approval, try to build a simple version
of your device, and see if you can get it
to work.
Initiating and Planning
Performing and Recording
Analyzing and Interpreting
Communication and Teamwork
New, Improved Robots Required!
You are an engineer for a company specializing in
the research and design field of robotics. Robots
are made using a combination of simple machines.
Your company has been approached to design
new and improved robotic devices to handle
hazardous wastes.
Use the scientific knowledge you have gained in
Topics 1– 6 to design and build a robotic arm that
can transport hazardous waste in containers to a
loading area.
Safety Precautions
• A glue gun is hot and the glue remains hot for
several minutes.
• Be careful when using tools such as saws and
hand drills.
jinx wood (1 cm × 1 cm)
dowelling (3 different diameters)
plywood platform (12 cm × 15 cm)
assorted wood screws, nuts and bolts, handles, gears,
pulleys, winches, wheels, tubes, modified syringes,
glue gun, saws, mitre box, small tools (e.g., a hand drill)
Design Specifications
A. You provide the power for the robotic arm.
B. Your robotic arm must be able to pick up a
container and move it a minimum of 10 cm
to the drop-off location.
gears, pulleys, cranks, wheels, hydraulics,
and pneumatics.
G. Students may not touch the mechanism or the
load directly at any time during the pickup,
transport, and unloading.
Plan and Construct
Plan and sketch your team’s solution on paper
before beginning construction, and show it to
your teacher.
How will the robotic arm manoeuvre and stop?
How will the simulated hazardous waste be
picked up, transported, and unloaded?
Does the mechanism balance with and
without the load?
1. How well did your team co-operate in
arriving at the best solution using the
design specifications?
C. The movement of the robotic arm described
in A above must be completed in 1 min.
2. How did sketches, planning, and
D. The robotic arm must be able to move up and
down as well as side to side.
3. Did your team make efficient use of
E. The robotic arm must have an operational
jaw mechanism.
F. Three different mechanisms must be combined
in the working prototype (model). These mechanisms must be chosen from the following list:
experimentation lead to a successful design?
materials and time, and follow safe, tidy
work practices?
4. How well did your prototype
demonstrate good design principles?
Combining Systems • MHR
Across Canada
“My work involves simulation,
modelling, and control of
robotic systems for space
applications, such as the
Canadarm,” explains Inna
Sharf, professor of mechanical
engineering at the University of
Victoria in British Columbia.
“The conditions in space are
Inna Sharf
very different from those on Earth. With no gravity and a
great deal of friction in a space environment, it is important
to simulate the conditions of space when testing new
machines and specialized equipment. Anyone who is
developing new space technology depends on simulation
tools to test whether a particular technological device will
work effectively in space.
“I develop computer models to predict the motion of
robotic systems in a space environment,” Dr. Sharf adds.
“We develop methods to ensure more precise control and
manipulation of robotic arms in space,” she says, describing
the work of her research group at the Space & Subsea
Robotics Lab. The focus of this group’s research is primarily
the needs of the Space Shuttle and International Space
Station programs now underway. Many of Dr. Sharf’s
projects have been developed co-operatively with a Canadian
aerospace company that makes advanced technology
systems, including robotic machines for use in space.
Dr. Sharf says she enjoys “thinking about challenging
problems and generating new results.” She also enjoys
interacting with her students.
1. Describe the subsystems in the pencil sharpener shown here.
2. Apply Explain how brakes in an automobile work. Use a diagram in
your answer.
3. Apply Design and sketch a mechanical system that uses a pulley or a
lever in combination with a hydraulic or pneumatic device. Label the
subsystems in the device.
4. Thinking Critically Formulate your own question related to how subsystems function in a mechanical device and explore possible answers.
330 MHR • Mechanical Systems
If you need to check an item, Topic numbers are provided in brackets below.
Key Terms
Pascal’s law
hydraulic lift
closed system
hydraulic systems
pneumatic systems
Reviewing Key Terms
1. Which of the key terms best matches each of
the following words or phrases?
(a) force per unit area (4)
(b) change of pressure is transmitted evenly
throughout a fluid (4)
(c) circulatory system (5)
(d) unit of pressure (4)
(e) provides a mechanical advantage (4)
(f ) brakes in a vehicle (6)
Understanding Key Concepts
2. What hydraulic pump generates the pressure
to force hydraulic fluid through 100 000 km
of tubes? (5)
3. What is the main function of your body’s
pneumatic system? (5)
4. Restate Pascal’s law in your own words. (4)
5. When you squeeze some toothpaste onto
your toothbrush, you are applying Pascal’s
law. Give some other everyday applications
of Pascal’s law. (4)
6. List four parts of an airplane that are
controlled by hydraulic systems. (5)
7. List two differences between hydraulic and
pneumatic systems. (5)
8. Describe four machines or instruments that
use pneumatic systems. (4, 5, 6)
9. Explain how a hovercraft works. (5)
10. Name several careers in which fluid pressure
plays a role. (4, 5, 6)
Wrap-up Topics 4–6 • MHR
Throughout History
Many people feared the
first steam-powered
trains. In England in
1829, a locomotive
called the Rocket won
a race at a speed of
47 km/h — unbelievably
fast for that time! In
the nineteenth century,
some people believed
it was dangerous for
humans to travel faster
than 20 km/h.
Figure 4.54 If you had taken a trip in Canada in the 1800s and early 1900s, you might have
travelled on a steam locomotive similar to the one pictured here.
To power this train, a railway worker called a “stoker” shovelled coal
into the furnace to keep the train moving. In a locomotive, burning
coal heats water in the boiler. The water in the boiler turns to steam,
which turns the gears, which move the wheels. Without the power of
steam — the gas into which water is changed by boiling — the train
could not move. You rarely see locomotives like this anymore, except
perhaps in museums or on display. However, the motion of cars, trucks,
ocean liners, and many other vehicles is based on the same scientific
principles as the motion of a locomotive.
The invention of the steam engine in the late eighteenth century was
an important milestone in the history of science and technology. In a
steam engine, fuel such as coal or wood is burned to heat water in a
boiler outside the engine. The water changes to steam and drives the
engine. The invention of the steam engine led to many changes in
transportation technology and also in the way that we manufacture
goods. For example, people used to weave cloth on looms in their own
homes. When large, steam-powered engines became available, these
workers moved to large factories in cities.
We don’t use steam locomotives anymore, but we do use other
types of engines in our cars, planes, and trains. In the Find Out Activity
on the next page, you will look at how transportation has changed
over time in response to changes in our understanding of science
and technology.
332 MHR • Mechanical Systems
Figure 4.55 How have modes of transportation changed as our
understanding of science and technology have changed? What
has replaced the vehicles shown here in the modern world?
Travelling Time
How have the methods of travel changed in the
area where you live? How have our lives changed
as means of transportation have changed?
What changes in scientific understanding, in knowledge of
materials, and in society might have prompted these changes?
Find Out
mountains to hike or Went to a movie on
the subway or Flew to Vancouver for a
vacation. Indicate how long it took you to
get to your destination.
3. In the three boxes in the middle of your
page, describe how these activities would
have been done 100 years ago. You can
ask your grandparents or older friends and
relatives for help.
4. In the three boxes on the right side of your
page, predict how these activities will be
done 100 years from now.
large sheet of paper (poster size)
coloured felt markers
Performing and Recording
1. Use a coloured marker to divide your sheet
of paper into nine sections (three rows and
three columns).
2. In the first box in the left-hand column,
describe how you got to school today. In
the next two boxes in this column,
describe something that you did recently
that meant that you had to use a form of
transportation. For example, Drove to the
What Did You Find Out?
Analyzing and Interpreting
1. How did the options for transportation
affect work and recreation in the past?
For example, would people have travelled
great distances for their entertainment or
work, or would they have worked and
relaxed closer to home?
2. How does the way you get to school
differ from the way your parents and
grandparents got to school?
3. How do technological inventions such as
the Internet affect how you might attend
school in the future?
Machines Throughout History • MHR
Putting Steam to Work
Figure 4.56 This simple
diagram shows how a
piston works.
This hot-air balloon works using a basic scientific principle — warm air
rises. From this simple understanding, people began to develop many
mechanical devices and even experimented with flying machines.
When Thomas Savery developed the first practical steam engine in
1699, he expanded on this basic understanding. He heated water to a
very high temperature to make steam. The steam was then used to
perform tasks such as moving a piston. As you can see in Figure 4.56,
a piston is a movable disk or platform that fits inside a closed cylinder.
When this piston moves, it causes an attached rod to move. The rod,
in turn, is attached to another part of the machine such as a crankshaft
in an engine.
Why do you think the inventors of early steam engines used steam
rather than liquid water to drive their engines?
If you poured 100 mL of water at 4°C into a measuring cup, then heated the water to 100°C, the volume of water would expand to 104 mL.
An increase from 100 mL to 104 mL is quite small. What would happen
if you continued to add heat to the water until it boiled? When water
boils, it changes from a liquid to a gas.
If the entire 100 mL of water boiled into steam at 100°C at atmospheric pressure, it would expand to about 170 000 mL. In other words,
when you convert liquid water into a gas, the volume increases to
1700 times its original volume! If you then heat the steam to 200°C,
the volume would continue to increase to more than 200 000 mL, or
2000 times its original volume.
The expansion of a liquid to such extreme temperatures that it turns
to a gas can be used to do work and to drive machines such as the
steam engine.
Steam engines were not the first mechanical devices to run on steam.
Heat-operated mechanical devices have existed for a long time. About
150 B.C.E., for example, Hero of Alexandria in Egypt wrote a book
describing many mechanical devices. These devices used gears, wheels
and axles, pulleys, hydraulics, and pneumatics.
One of Hero’s devices is shown here. The machine combines
pneumatic and hydraulic systems. In this device, the pedestal
and the altar were sealed and connected only by a tube.
Observers could not see the connecting tube, nor could they see the tubes running from
the pedestal up through the statues to the bowls they are holding. The pedestal was filled
from the back with water and then sealed as well. A fire lit on the altar heated the air
sealed inside. As the heat increased the air pressure in the altar, the air moved through
the connecting tube into the pedestal. What would this increased pressure do to the water
in the pedestal? What would happen to the fire? Imagine what it would be like to witness
Hero’s altar in action if you didn’t understand hydraulics and pneumatics.
334 MHR • Mechanical Systems
pedestal water
Figure 4.57 This
photograph shows a
replica of a paddle-wheeled
steamboat docked
in Edmonton.
The invention of steam engines led to innovations in transportation.
At one time, steamboats were an important means of transportation in
Canada. For example, from 1836–1957, more than 3000 steamboats
travelled along the rivers and coasts of British Columbia and the
Yukon, carrying gold seekers between the two regions. Incredible as it
may seem, for a time, a fleet of steamboats supplied the Canadian West
(see Figure 4.57). These steamships became a common sight in what
many people assumed was a landlocked prairie. By 1879, seventeen
ships travelled regularly on the North Saskatchewan, the South
Saskatchewan, the Assiniboine, and the Red rivers. These steamboats
transported the materials of the fur trade, as well as pioneers and
farming equipment for the new society springing up on the Prairies.
Exactly how does steam cause a
Steam alternately moves through the dark
paddle wheel to turn? Under high
then the light passageway
pressure, steam flows into the right side
of the cylinder, as shown in Figure 4.58.
high-pressure exhaust
steam in
The steam expands and pushes the
piston to the left. At the same time, an
valve rod
exhaust valve on the left side opens to
allow old, cooled steam to escape. Then
piston rod
the exhaust valve switches to the right
side and steam enters the left side,
pushing the piston to the right in the
cylinder. As the process repeats itself
again and again, the piston moves back
and forth. The rod of the piston is
attached to gears and levers that do
work. In a steamboat, the gears turn
Figure 4.58 Steam under high pressure operates pistons to turn a
a paddle wheel that pushes against the
paddle wheel.
water and propels the boat forward.
Machines Throughout History • MHR
Turning Wheels
The first record in history
of a wheel turned by
steam is found in the
writings of Hero of
Alexandria. Hero
described what appeared
to be a toy. The toy had a
pot filled with water that
was closed with a lid. A
pipe ran from the lid to
the inside of a hollow
wheel. Bent pipes were
attached to the edge of
the wheel. When placed
over a fire, the water in
the pot began to boil.
Steam was driven up the
pipe into the hollow
wheel. As the steam
escaped through the bent
pipes, the pressure of the
steam caused the wheel
to rotate.
Figure 4.59 Steam powers huge ocean liners that can carry thousands of passengers at a time.
This cruise ship is entering Burrard Inlet in British Columbia.
Paddle-wheeled riverboats are rarely seen today, but steam still propels
most ocean liners, such as the one shown in Figure 4.59. In these huge
ships, steam does not drive pistons up and down. Instead, the steam
turns large turbines. A turbine is a rotary engine used to convert the
motion of a fluid into mechanical energy. It consists of a number of fan
blades attached to a central hub (see Figure 4.60). The blades rotate
when steam moves past them at a high speed. The spinning turbine is
attached to an axle that turns giant propellers. These propellers drive
the ocean liner through the water.
stationary blade
turbine wheel
Figure 4.60 Stationary blades can
increase a turbine’s efficiency by carefully
directing the angle at which the steam hits
the spinning turbine wheel.
steam in
336 MHR • Mechanical Systems
Turbines turn more than toys or propellers on ships. They are used
in jet engines, and they turn shafts that operate many machines.
Turbines also provide electricity. In thermo-electric generating stations,
burning coal is used to heat water to steam. In other cases, nuclear
reactors heat the water. In still other cases, turbines are powered by
moving water to generate hydro-electric power.
Build a Model Steam Turbine
Watch the power of steam in action!
Safety Precautions
Use care when pushing the wire through the
bleach bottle.
3.6 L plastic bleach bottle
coat hanger wire
drinking straw
glue gun or tape
Performing and Recording
1. Remove the top from the bleach bottle.
CAUTION Make sure the bottle is
very clean.
2. Cut out the bottom of the bottle.
CAUTION Be careful when using the
scissors. Cut this bottom piece into fanshaped blades, like a windmill, as shown.
3. Bend two pieces of coat hanger wire into
a square-shaped frame. The frame should
be large enough to allow the fan blades to
turn within it.
4. Poke the end of each length of wire
through the bottom of the bleach bottle.
Then insert a piece of a drinking straw over
the two top ends of the wire, as shown.
kettle with boiling water
Find Out
piece of straw glued
to fan-blade disk
bent coat
hanger wire
5. Glue or tape the fan-blade disk to the
piece of straw (not to the wire), so the
blades will not flop back and forth.
6. Using the handle of the bleach bottle,
hold your turbine over a steaming kettle.
CAUTION Wear heat-resistant safety
gloves and do this only under your
teacher’s supervision to avoid a severe
burn. Alternatively, your teacher can hold
the bottle carefully over the steam.
What Did You Find Out?
Analyzing and Interpreting
1. What did you observe when you held the
bleach-bottle turbine over the steam?
90° (approximate)
2. Apply The water in the kettle was heated
by means of a coil that conducts heat.
What is the source of the heat that converts water into steam to turn the turbine
in a thermo-electric generating station?
Machines Throughout History • MHR
Burning Inside
In your Science Log,
draw an illustrated timeline showing the development of the use of fluid
pressure, including:
• an early example from
ancient literature,
where steam pressure
was used to operate
a device
• first useful steam
• improvements in
steam engines
• use of steam turbines
• first use of internal
combustion engines
Think for a moment about the size and the weight of the parts of a
steam engine. A steam engine requires a furnace, coal or wood for fuel,
a large boiler with a lot of water, and, finally, the actual engine and its
pistons. If you could eliminate the furnace and the boiler, the engine
would be much smaller and lighter. The desire to improve the steam
engine’s efficiency led to the development of the internal combustion
engine in Germany in 1876. The term “internal combustion” describes
the way the engine works. The combustion, or burning, of fuel occurs
internally, that is, inside the engine. No external furnace, boiler, or
water is needed. The fuel, gasoline, is burned right inside the cylinders.
Internal combustion engines usually have four, six, or eight pistons
and cylinders. Each piston goes through the steps shown in
Figure 4.61, but each piston does not carry out the same step at the
same time. The diagram follows one piston through a cycle. The entire
cycle is repeated many times each minute.
Most automobile engines have pistons that move either up and down
or back and forth. A part called a crankshaft changes this up-anddown or back-and-forth motion to rotary motion, which turns the
automobile’s wheels. The power to move the pistons comes from the
energy released by burning gasoline.
intake valve
Intake stroke
The piston moves
down the cylinder
and draws in the
fuel-air mixture —
fine droplets of
gasoline mixed
with air.
Compression stroke
The piston moves up.
The fuel-air mixture
is compressed into
a smaller space.
spark plug
Power stroke
When the piston is almost
at the top, a spark from
the spark plug ignites the
mixture. Hot gases expand,
forcing the piston down.
Energy is transferred from
the piston to the wheels of
the automobile.
Exhaust stroke
The piston moves
up again, compressing
and pushing out the
waste products left
over from burning the
fuel-air mixture.
Figure 4.61 Automobiles move as a result of the transfer of thermal energy in their engines.
338 MHR • Mechanical Systems
Taking Flight
Some of the earliest internal combustion engines
were developed for use in aircraft. Steam engines
were used in early cars, but they were too heavy
and cumbersome for aircraft. The lighter, smaller
internal combustion engine was ideal for a
machine designed to fly. Although they have been
around for more than 100 years, internal combustion engines continue to be tested and improved.
Examine the two aircraft in Figures 4.62A
and B. Although they were built more than
70 years apart, they both use similar technology
and shorten the travel time and distance between
two places. The Silver Dart had a maximum speed
of about 80 km/h, while the Space Shuttle can
travel at 10 000 km/h. The Space Shuttle can
orbit at altitudes of 1500 km, while the Silver Dart
never flew above 100 m. These aircraft were both
incredible inventions when they were designed.
What do you think the aircraft of the future will
look like?
People have always needed to travel. In
ancient times, if their water supply dried up, a
whole village would have to move to a distant
location. Today we travel for many reasons.
Science and technology have not changed our
need to travel. They have simply provided more
and faster ways to travel.
Figure 4.62B The Space Shuttle is a spacecraft that
consists of a winged orbiter and booster rockets that
propel the craft into space. About two minutes after lift
off, the boosters use up their fuel, separate from the
spacecraft and re-enter the atmosphere, where they are
retrieved. After completion of the space mission, the
orbiter reduces its speed, descends through the
atmosphere, and lands like an airplane.
Figure 4.62A The Silver Dart was the first powered
airplane flown in Canada. It was designed in 1909 by
Canadian J.A.D. McCurdy, a member of Alexander
Graham Bell’s Aerial Experiment Association. To launch
the plane, a horse-drawn sleigh pulled it over the ice of
Baddeck Bay in Cape Breton. The plane rose after being
pulled about 30 m, and flew at an elevation of 3 to 9 m
and a speed of 65 km/h for 0.8 km.
Industrialization and the internal combustion engine have created a threat to the
environment — smog. Use the Internet to do research on smog and the internal combustion engine. How does smog affect trees and other plants? What health problems are caused
by smog? What can be done to reduce smog? Visit the above web site. Go to Science
Resources. Then go to SCIENCEFOCUS 8 to find out where to go next. (Use your
library if you do not have access to the Internet.) Work with a partner to
produce a poster about smog and how to reduce it.
Machines Throughout History • MHR
Find Out
Against the Wind
How does air pressure affect flight? Try this
activity to find out.
3. Remove the sheet of paper from the desk
and hold it up in front of you. Blow into the
middle of the page.
sheet of paper
Performing and Recording
1. Tape a sheet of paper to the top of a desk
so that the sheet hangs over the edge.
2. From across the desk, blow over the sheet
of paper. Blow gently at first. Then
increase the force of the air blowing over
the paper. Observe what happens to the
sheet of paper as you blow over it.
4. Observe what happens to the sheet of
paper as you blow into the middle of it.
What Did You Find Out?
Analyzing and Interpreting
1. Where was the air pressure greatest in
each of these tests?
2. Which test was similar to flying a kite?
Explain your answer.
3. Which test showed how an aircraft
wing works?
Technology Timelines
This timeline shows a
few systems in which
water has been collected
throughout history. Do
some research to find
other methods that
were once used. Ideas
include aqueducts, water
towers, waterwheels,
and windmills.
water screw
Figure 4.63 The ways in which we collect water have changed over time. Estimate when each of
these methods came into popular use. Do research to find out how accurate your estimate is.
340 MHR • Mechanical Systems
Humans, as well as all other forms of life, have always needed water to
survive. Technology has made it much easier for us to meet that need.
The timeline shown in Figure 4.63 shows how the technology for
collecting water has changed over time. Similar timelines can be drawn
for many of the mechanical devices we use today, from a can opener to
a computer. Draw your own timeline for a mechanical device in the
next activity.
Find Out
Time for a Change?
How did people cut wheat or drill for oil 100
years ago? Choose one of these tasks, or one
of your own and create your own technology
long sheets of paper
coloured felt markers
Performing and Recording
Choose a machine or mechanical system and
draw a timeline showing how the machine or
mechanical system has changed over time.
You could also choose a particular task such
as washing clothes, and illustrate how this
task has changed as science and technology
have changed. Your timeline should include
the approximate dates at which various
changes occurred.
What Did You Find Out?
Analyzing and Interpreting
Why do you think the technology you chose
changed over time? In addition to scientific
or technological reasons, decide whether
any changes were made for societal or
environmental reasons.
1. Use a labelled drawing to explain how a piston in a steam engine works.
2. How does a steam turbine differ from a steam engine?
For tips on how to
design an experiment,
turn to Skill Focus 6.
3. Apply Sometimes steam engines are called “external combustion
engines.” Explain what this term means by comparing it to “internal
combustion engines.”
4. Thinking Critically People have always needed to travel. Give two or
three different reasons why.
5. Thinking Critically Explain how science and technology have changed
human travel.
Machines Throughout History • MHR
People and Machines
Science and technology have given us a variety of amazing machines
that have made many of our daily tasks easier. Imagine the excitement
of seeing the first “horseless carriage,” the very first car. Not long after
its introduction a large percentage of people owned cars and were able
to travel farther and faster. Soon cars became larger and fuels became
more efficient. The automobile seemed like an ideal machine until
scientists discovered that the gasoline additive, lead tetraethyl, was
polluting the atmosphere. The lead helped the gasoline to burn more
efficiently but it caused health problems. The search was on for other
ways to make gasoline burn efficiently. In Canada today, all vehicles use
lead-free gasoline. However, other gasoline products pollute the air.
Automobile emissions are just one of many problems that our
advanced machines bring with them. As you read this Topic, think
about how the development of machines throughout history has
brought pleasure and comfort to societies. Think also of the negative
side. What kinds of problems and challenges do these technologies
bring as well? How are we trying to meet these challenges? What
types of choices must we make? What do we need to learn from past
experience in order to make the future better?
Figure 4.64A The chemical Freon 12 was
once the most common coolant used in
refrigerators and car air conditioners.
However, scientists discovered that Freon 12
contributed to the gases destroying Earth’s
ozone layer. Now, alternative coolants are
used in refrigerators and air conditioners.
Figure 4.64B As cities grew larger and more people moved to suburbs far from
their workplace, mass-transit systems such as this “Sky Train” were developed.
In your Science Log, list and describe two other machines or mechanical
systems that you think have changed as a result of changes in society or
the environment.
342 MHR • Mechanical Systems
The Industrial Revolution
The invention of the steam engine transformed society. No one can say
for certain when the Industrial Revolution began. Simple machinery
had been taking the place of hand labour since 1700. The water-driven
spinning machine introduced in 1769, for example, could do the work
of twelve workers. A combination of events in the late 1700s, however,
transformed England and the world. First came James Watt’s invention
of an efficient steam engine in 1769 (see Figure 4.65A). A year later,
Henry Cort developed a method of making iron using coal for fuel
instead of wood. The iron to build machines and the engines to drive
them led to the rapid development of mass-production industry.
(Mass production is the manufacturing of large quantities of a standardized item by standardized mechanical processes. Modern examples
include the manufacture of home appliances in a factory, the canning of
foods in a food-processing plant, and the production of automobiles in
an assembly plant.)
Within a few years, small towns such as Manchester and
Birmingham in England became industrialized cities teeming with
factories (see Figure 4.65B). Industrialization led to great social change.
Unable to compete with the new factories, the spinners, weavers, and
craftspeople from the villages flocked to the cities to find work. The
transformation from a rural to an urban society had begun.
Figure 4.65A The plans for James Watt’s steam engine. Watt’s
invention was one of the technological advances that gave rise
to the Industrial Revolution in England.
Imagine that you are living in England in the late
1700s. Your family once
spun and wove cloth in
their home in a small
rural village. Now you
cannot sell your cloth
because it is being made
less expensively in large
factories in the city. You
and your parents must
go to the city to work in
these factories. Write a
paragraph or draw a
picture in your Science
Log. Explain or show the
ways in which you think
the introduction of a new
technology (the steam
engine) and its use in
factories might change
the society and the
environment around you.
Figure 4.65B In the late eighteenth and early
nineteenth centuries, factories were built in Europe
to mass-produce goods, and people moved from
farms to cities to find work. Children as well as
adults worked long, hard hours in these factories.
People and Machines • MHR
Which Came First?
Figure 4.66 Do you think
we would have such large,
sprawling cities surrounded
by suburbs if we did not
use our automobiles
so much?
The question of whether the needs or
wants of society results in new technology, or whether new technology
changes society, continues to challenge us. It is sometimes said, for
example, that the oil industry is so
large because of the demand for fuel
to run automobiles. However, some
people also say that the reason we
have so many cars and use them so
often is because of the low price and
abundance of gasoline. We can build
large cities because it is possible to get around in them so easily using
automobiles. Even in our largest cities, people travel from one end to
the other to get to work and back home again. One hundred years ago
it would have taken half a day to make the trip one way. Do you think
cities are so large because we have vehicles, or do you think we have
vehicles because our cities are so large?
Figure 4.67 These cars were built before there was concern over the effect of air pollution from
vehicle exhaust.
All the vehicles in Figure 4.67 were popular at a time when people
thought fuel was unlimited and that the atmosphere could absorb all
of the pollutants entering it from industry and car exhausts. In the
1970s, scientists began to inform people about a shortage of fuel and
the negative environmental effects of fuel combustion. As a result,
many people’s attitudes changed, and so did their choice of vehicles.
Look at the newer models of vehicles in Figure 4.68. What are the
obvious differences between the older models in Figure 4.67 and
these newer models?
344 MHR • Mechanical Systems
Figure 4.68 In the last thirty years, car motors have become smaller and cars have become
more aerodynamic. Inventions such as fuel injection and catalytic converters have become more
widely used. These cars are more fuel-efficient and get better gas mileage.
Like the aircraft that you studied in Topic 7 and the cars you have
examined here, vehicles are constantly being improved as experimental
designs are tested. The vehicles in Figure 4.69 are alternatives to gasoline-powered vehicles. The racing car in Figure 4.69A uses solar panels
to capture the energy of the Sun. Solar energy is stored in a battery in
the car. The van in Figure 4.69B is powered by electricity. Most electrically powered vehicles can travel about 80 km before the
battery needs recharging. The bus in Figure 4.69C
is fuelled by a hydrogen fuel cell. This cell
A Canadian company, Ballard Power Systems, develfuels a chemical reaction that uses hydrogen
the hydrogen fuel cell. To learn more about this compaand oxygen from the atmosphere to make
ny and the hydrogen fuel cell it produces, visit the above web
electricity. The only exhaust from this bus
site. Go to Science Resources, then to SCIENCEFOCUS 8
is water that is clean enough to drink!
to find out where to go next. In your notebook,
Why do you think these vehicles are
draw and label a hydrogen fuel cell.
not widely used?
Figure 4.69A A solar-powered racing car
Figure 4.69B Electricity powers
Figure 4.69C This bus is fuelled by a hydrogen fuel cell.
this van.
People and Machines • MHR
What Is It For?
When you set out to design a new technology or improve an existing
one, you must start with a clear understanding of what it is you want
the technology to do. This means that you must be very specific about
the task you wish to accomplish. For example, at one time, all rail cars
were either flat decks, or boxcars. These types of cars had limited uses.
Today, rail cars are specifically designed for different
tasks. Examine the rail cars in Figure 4.70 and try to
determine the specific use of each one.
Each type of rail car is constantly evaluated by the
people who use and design them to ensure that they
are performing the tasks they were designed to do.
Scientists and technicians must always ask questions,
evaluate their work, and decide if changes need to
be made.
Sometimes scientists have to ask themselves
difficult questions. They often have to weigh the
positive and negative effects of a technology or a
new discovery. We may have the scientific understanding and the technological know-how to design
something, but should we do it? For example, many
people feel that we should not use nuclear power to
generate electricity even though we know how to
make and use this form of energy. While this
technology is actually quite clean and causes little
pollution when it is working properly, accidents at
nuclear power-generating plants can have devastatC
ing effects on both society and the environment.
There are times when you need to answer
questions responsibly and consider how your choices
might affect society or the environment. You often
do this when you purchase something. Do you own
an item that features much more technology than
you will ever need? Do you ever consider the energy
required to make something that you own? What
kinds of materials were used to make this product?
Figure 4.70 Rail cars are designed for specific uses.
Where did these materials come from? Does the
product generate any waste? In the next activity,
you will evaluate a mechanical device to determine
whether its production and operation had any
For tips on scientific decision making, turn to
environmental or social costs.
Skill Focus 8.
346 MHR • Mechanical Systems
Initiating and Planning
Performing and Recording
Analyzing and Interpreting
Communication and Teamwork
The Real Costs
What to Do
In a group, create an evaluation form that you
can use to compare two different bicycles. You
will need to include:
• the purpose of the bicycle (e.g., commuting
to school, racing, trail riding, etc.),
• where the bicycle is ridden,
• any important design and safety features
(e.g., number of gears, modifications to seat,
handlebars, etc.), and
• other questions that you think are important
to ask.
You must also include questions and criteria
to evaluate whether the device is meeting the
purpose for which it was purchased. Devise
some questions to determine how the bicycles
might affect society and the environment in
both positive and negative ways. (Hints:
Consider whether mountain bikes are ridden
on trails; if people spend more money on
bicycles than they can afford; if people are
riding their bikes instead of driving or taking
a bus; if they own a bike that can do more
than they actually need it to do; or, if they
own a new bike when their last bike was
perfectly adequate.)
Think About It
When you consider the cost of an item, you
usually think of its price tag. Costs can also apply
to other things, such as the cost to society or the
environment. Think of the bicycles that we use
today. Do we need bicyles that have so many gears
and special features, or do we own something that
has much more technology than most of us will
ever use? We usually think of bicycles as being
good for the environment since they don’t
produce pollution when they are being used.
Of course this is true. We should also consider,
however, how a product is made and what
happens to it when it is no longer needed.
Use your form to evaluate two different bicycles. Try to examine two bicycles that are quite
different, such as a mountain bike and a road
bike. Revise your evaluation form if necessary.
1. Explain how the two bicycles you evaluated
affect society and the environment, either
positively or negatively.
2. Why is determining the purpose of a
mechanical device so important when you
evaluate the device?
People and Machines • MHR
Designed for Comfort
One of the features you might have evaluated in the previous
investigation was the comfort of each bicycle’s seat. If you
have ever attended a sporting event or a concert, you will
know how uncomfortable some seats can be.
The fans in the cartoon have found a way to make watching a sports event more comfortable. What do the cushions
do to make sitting easier? How do inventors use their understanding of scientific concepts to design a more comfortable
seat? The answer lies in the relationship between force, area,
and pressure that you learned about in Topic 4. Think about
the difference between sleeping on the ground and sleeping
on an air mattress. Why is an air mattress more comfortable?
The activity below gives you a chance to test your answer.
Find Out
Flat Out
4. Using the same force, press on the balloon
with one of your fingers. Observe what
happens to the balloon.
Performing and Recording
1. Inflate the balloon until it is about half full.
It should be soft enough so that you won’t
pop it when you poke it with your finger.
2. Press on the balloon with the palm of
your hand. Observe what happens to the
What Did You Find Out?
3. Using the same force, press on the balloon
with the side of your hand. Observe what
happens to the balloon.
Analyzing and Interpreting
1. Which method of pressing on the balloon
could you do for the longest time without
feeling tired or uncomfortable?
2. Explain why an air mattress can support
you off the ground when you lie on it, but it
won’t support you off the ground if you are
on your knees or are standing on it.
3. Why do you usually change positions often
when you sit in class or when you are
sleeping? What would happen if you didn’t
move frequently?
348 MHR • Mechanical Systems
The Science of Comfort
Topic 1 introduced the science of ergonomics. When ergonomic
researchers discover something that increases the comfort or efficiency
of a particular item, technicians are quick to build, test, and market
the changes.
Figure 4.71A A “pregnant” crash-test dummy is being used to
test seat belts.
Figure 4.71B This chair is being product-tested to determine
its strength and durability.
The testing systems shown above are designed to provide scientific
information to researchers. This allows them to decide what type of
safety belt or chair is the best for its designed purpose. Comfort is
often something that is evaluated when a device is tested. Sometimes
people must spend long periods of time in one position. Look at the
wheelchairs on the right. How have the wheelchairs changed over
time? Do earlier models look comfortable? Recent improvements in
wheelchair design were made as a result of ergonomic research. Today,
there are also many types of specialized wheelchairs. Thanks to
advances in the design and comfort of wheelchairs, people who use
wheelchairs are able to take part in sports such as basketball and track
and field.
Modifications in wheelchair design reflect how changes in society
can produce changes in science and technology. Not long ago, for
instance, people who use wheelchairs had limited access to many buildings and activities. Today, because people with disabilities have spoken
out, and because society is much more concerned about the rights of
people with disabilities, there have been many technological advances.
Now, we see wheelchair ramps, specially designed washrooms, doors
that open automatically, hand-operated vehicles and bicycles, and many
other technologies that give people in wheelchairs greater freedom.
In this Topic, you have learned how machines and mechanical
systems have changed over time and how changes in society and the
environment have prompted changes in science and technology. Not
so long ago people had never heard of compact discs, or personal
computers, or cellular phones. What changes might lie in the future?
Figure 4.72 Ergonomic
research has improved
wheelchair comfort.
People and Machines • MHR
Looking Ahead
Designers adapt wheelchairs to suit different
needs and different
activities. Now you
have the chance to
adapt or redesign a
tool to help people with
different needs. Turn to
the Unit 4 Project on
page 354.
Putting the Wheels in Motion
A number of companies in North America manufacture wheelchairs. No one design is suitable for every person and every
use, so they build many types. Most of the wheelchairs are
designed by mechanical or manufacturing engineers. These
people have the specialized knowledge for the job. They know
how to position the parts so the chair won’t tip. They know
what size and type of motor can provide appropriate speed,
and so on.
Not all wheelchairs were developed by these manufacturing
professionals, though. Some chairs have been designed by
teams of students in universities or colleges. Some were
designed by experts in rehabilitation medicine. A few universities and learning institutes offer courses and programs in rehabilitation engineering that
teach about wheelchair design. Some wheelchairs have been designed by people who use
them. Two paraplegic men who love basketball decided to build a good, economical sports
wheelchair. A quadraplegic man wanted to travel down the bumpy hill to the river beside his
house, so he designed a specialized chair that could take him there. These people needed
products that no manufacturer had developed, so they developed them themselves.
Do some research to find out about courses in rehabilitation medicine or rehabilitation
engineering that are offered at Canadian colleges, universities, and other learning institutes.
1. Explain how science has been used to improve the vehicles that we
drive today.
2. What is the first step you must take when designing a new machine or
redesigning an existing machine? In other words, what is the first
question you must ask yourself about the machine you want to build?
3. Describe how people’s understanding of the environment and the potential environmental impacts of emissions such as lead, as well as scientific
knowledge, have caused changes in the vehicles that we drive.
4. Describe how changes in society’s attitude toward people in wheelchairs
may have led to changes in the wheelchairs available to people who need
them. Were these changes made using science or technology or both?
5. Thinking Critically The relationship between science and technology
is often called a “chicken and egg argument.” (Which came first, the
chicken or the egg?) Explain how science and technology are like the
chicken and the egg.
6. Thinking Critically Give some examples showing how technology has
improved our ability to study science.
350 MHR • Mechanical Systems
T O P I C S 7– 8
If you need to check an item, Topic numbers are provided in brackets below.
Key Terms
steam engine
exhaust valve
internal combustion engine
mass production
hydrogen fuel cell
Reviewing Key Terms
1. How does a steam turbine differ from a steam
engine? (7)
2. What makes a piston move? (7)
3. Where would you find pistons? (7)
4. Explain the meaning of the words “internal”
and “combustion” as they are used in the
term “internal combustion engine.” (7)
12. Testing an idea using a computer model or a
simulation is often better than actual testing.
Look at Figure 4.71A on page 349 of your
textbook. A crash-test dummy is one example
of a test simulation. Describe when a simulation or model would be useful. Describe when
a simulation or model would not be useful. (8)
5. Describe how the Industrial Revolution made
mass production possible. (8)
6. Describe the different types of exhaust that
come from a steam engine, an internal
combustion engine, and a hydrogen fuel cell.
(7, 8)
Understanding Key Concepts
7. Steam engines and internal combustion
engines both have pistons that go through an
up-and-down cycle. State two ways in which
the cycles for steam engines and internal
combustion engines are different. (7)
8. Explain the relationship between air pressure
and flight. How do aircraft take advantage of
changes in air pressure? (7)
9. Explain how science and technology relate to
one another. (7, 8)
13. Give three examples of how science and
technology have helped to improve life for
people with disabilities. (8)
14. Explain whether science or technology is
responsible for most of the improvements in
the mechanical devices that we use. (7, 8)
10. Describe three differences between a mountain bike and a road bike. Explain why these
differences exist. (8)
15. List two mechanical devices that have
changed because of environmental concerns.
(7, 8)
11. List three questions you would ask if you
were given the task of improving the design
of a shopping cart. (8)
16. List two mechanical devices that have
changed because of societal concerns. (7, 8)
Wrap-up Topics 7–8 • MHR
If you had to get someone out of an upside-down car that
has been crushed in a collision, what tool would you use?
Randy Segboer will tell you there is no simple answer to that
question. As a firefighting instructor at the Alberta Fire
Training School (AFTS), Randy trains firefighters and rescue
workers in just about every skill they need to know. His
specialty is rescue extrication — getting people out of
dangerous situations.
How did you become a firefighting instructor?
I was a mechanic for many years before I
joined the fire service. I came to AFTS for
specialized training as a firefighter, and later I
became an instructor. I’ve been teaching here
for three years now.
What do you teach students about rescue extrication?
We teach them the proper use of tools at a
rescue scene and give them hands-on experience in judging when to use each tool. We
stage many kinds of rescue scenarios here at
the school, and the students respond as
though each scenario were the real thing.
example. So, we first try hand tools because
they don’t require any set-up time.
We may try to force open a jammed door
using a leverage tool called a Halligan.
While one firefighter is prying with the
Halligan, others are setting up the next type
of equipment in case the Halligan doesn’t
do the job. For many jammed doors, simple
hand tools alone would take too long.
Can you describe one of those scenarios?
Let’s say we have a car accident, a singlevehicle rollover, with an injured victim pinned
inside the car. First, we have to stabilize the
scene — make sure the car isn’t going to roll
farther, slide down a hill, or burst into flames.
Next, we assess the victim’s health and determine what’s trapping the victim inside the car.
How do you decide which tools you will use to get
the victim out?
Unless a car door will open, we will have to
force or cut some part of the car in order to
get inside. It’s important to use as little force
as possible so that we don’t make the situation
worse, by causing the car to collapse, for
352 MHR • Mechanical Systems
In this rescue simulation, Richelle Johnson, who is training to
become an emergency services technician, uses a HalliganTM
to pry a small opening in a jammed car door.
Randy shows Richelle how to use a heavy hydraulic spreader to force open a car door.
What type of equipment do the rescue workers
try next?
The next option is to use hand hydraulic
tools. These are similar to a hydraulic car jack.
We pump these tools by hand and the
hydraulic action pulls or pushes apart two
sections of the car. Hydraulic tools apply more
force than a simple hand tool, but it takes two
people to operate them. One person pumps
to supply power while the other person
manipulates the tool.
If the car door remains jammed, we move on
to heavy hydraulic tools, which are powered
by an engine or compressed air. Simple hand
tools, hand hydraulic tools, and heavy
hydraulic tools all do the same thing: push,
pull, or cut. The advantage of the heavy
hydraulic tools is their power and strength. In
most situations, these tools get the job done.
If that is so, why not just use heavy hydraulic tools
in every situation?
Heavy hydraulic tools take time to set up.
During that time, other workers might as well
be trying the faster tools. Noise is another
factor. The sound of the loud, heavy hydraulic
tools can raise the victim’s anxiety and blood
pressure. Also, heavy hydraulic tools are
extremely powerful. They apply a lot of force
and when something finally gives, it gives in a
big way. If you haven’t correctly anticipated
the point that will give, you may have made
the situation worse.
Do you use any other kinds of rescue equipment?
Rescue trucks and fire-pump trucks usually
carry some pneumatic equipment as well,
such as pneumatic wrenches, chisels, and jackhammers. We also have airbags, which we
place between the ground and a solid part of
the vehicle. Then we inflate the airbag to
raise the vehicle.
Our goal is to get the victim out as quickly
as possible to improve chances of survival.
Basically, we’ll use anything that helps us
achieve that goal.
Tools of the Trade
Reread the information about the specific
tools mentioned in this interview. For each
tool, list as much information as you
can, including
• the energy source
• any simple machine(s) involved
• advantages and disadvantages of using
the tool in a rescue situation
Can you suggest other jobs that might
use these same tools? List the jobs and
compare your list with a classmate’s.
Ask An Expert Unit 4 • MHR
Adapting Tools
Have you ever broken your arm and had it set in a cast? If so, you probably had
trouble doing simple, everyday tasks. Opening a jar of peanut butter or styling
your hair would be awkward with your arm in a cast.
Some people are born with conditions that make it hard to perform delicate
hand and finger movements. Also, many older people do not have the strength to
open a jar or a can. People with arthritis find it difficult to open bottles or jars with
childproof lids. Common household utensils and tools are not usually designed for
people with such physical challenges.
With the help of an occupational therapist, this woman is
relearning how to use a knife after a hand injury.
A person who has arthritis is using a specially designed
manual aid to open a jar of honey.
One of the jobs of an occupational therapist is to
find or adapt tools and gadgets for use by people
who have been injured or disabled. The photograph on the right above shows a special tool
designed for use by people who have conditions
such as arthritis. (Arthritis is an inflammation
of the joints characterized by pain, swelling,
and stiffness.)
personal-care items (e.g., comb, hairbrush, toothbrush,
soap, mirror, empty childproof prescription bottle), or
other common household items of your choice
glue or glue gun
Adapt or redesign tools, utensils, personal-care
items, or craft or hobby items for use by an older
person who has lost strength or another person
with a physical injury or disability.
tools (e.g., pliers, wrench, hammer, screwdriver,
putty knife)
utensils (e.g., table knife, fork, spoon, tongs, funnel,
measuring spoons, spatula)
354 MHR • Mechanical Systems
Safety Precautions
• Be careful when using sharp objects such as
scissors, knives, and screwdrivers.
• A glue gun is hot and the glue remains hot for
several minutes.
Design Criteria
A. Choose two items from the tools, utensils, and
personal-care items listed above. Adapt or
redesign the devices for use by a person who is
physically challenged in some way.
B. Each adaptation must include at least one type
of simple machine that you have studied in
this unit.
C. Your adaptation must be completed and ready
to demonstrate to the class during the time
allotted by your teacher.
D. Your adaptation may be either an actual device
or a working model.
E. You must submit a summary of each team
member’s contribution to the design,
development, and demonstration of your
adapted device.
Plan and Construct
In your group, brainstorm a variety of tools or
utensils that you could adapt to meet the
Challenge outlined above. Decide what specific
task each adapted device would allow the person using it to perform. Discuss why a person
with a specific physical disability would be
unable to perform the task without your device.
Of the items that you discussed, select two
that the majority of the group members would
like to adapt or redesign. If you wish, select
one optional device in case one of your
choices does not function as planned.
Subdivide the group into two smaller groups
and assign one of the two devices to each
group. Assemble your device, testing it at each
stage of assembly. When each group has
accomplished as much as possible, the two
groups will confer with each other. If one
group has ideas that can help the other group
improve its device, implement that idea. If
either group finds that its device cannot be
made to function properly, the group should
start to work on the alternative.
When the devices or models are completed,
the whole group will prepare a written and
oral presentation describing and demonstrating the devices for the class.
1. As a group, discuss the effectiveness of your
devices. Did they perform as well as you had
intended? Why or why not?
2. Did you encounter problems in developing
your devices? If so, how well did you solve the
3. How practical would your devices be for use
by a person who has a physical challenge?
4. What would you change about your design
if you were to begin again?
5. Write a summary of your group’s evaluation of
the two devices.
Make a list of the materials you will need for
each device or model.
Assign tasks to each member of your group,
such as the collection of materials, the assembly of the device or model, and the testing of
the device or model. Set deadlines for each
stage of the project.
As a group, draft an illustrated plan that
clearly shows the materials and the design of
the adapted device. Submit your plan to your
teacher for approval.
Working in a group, design an original tool or device
for use by a person who has a physical disability. If
time permits, construct a model of your new device
and give it a name.
Unit 4 Project • MHR
Unit at a Glance
• Simple machines, such as levers, inclined planes,
and pulleys, help people perform tasks that
would otherwise be difficult to do.
• There are three kinds of levers: Class 1, Class 2,
and Class 3.
• Work is done only when force produces motion
in the direction of the force.
• Machines make work easier because they change
the size or the direction of the force put into a
• Mechanical advantage is the comparison of the
force produced by a machine to the force
applied to the machine.
• Machines and other products can be designed
and adapted to suit the specific needs of people.
• Pulleys can be fixed or movable. Pulleys change
the direction of the motion when objects are
• Hydraulic and pneumatic systems are all around
us, even in our bodies.
• Many mechanical devices are a combination of
smaller subsystems.
• Mechanical devices have changed as science and
technology have changed.
• Changes in society and the environment
sometimes result in changes to science and
Understanding Key Concepts
1. Define the terms “work” and “mechanical
advantage” and express them as mathematical
2. Explain why machines, including levers, are
not 100 percent efficient. Use the definition
of efficiency in your answer.
• Objects have stored or potential energy, and
kinetic energy.
3. Explain the difference between energy
conversion and power transmission.
• Machines such as a chain and sprocket are used
to transfer energy.
4. Describe a situation in which friction is useful.
• Friction reduces the efficiency of mechanical
5. Describe how valves work. Use a drawing if
you wish.
• When you change the area over which a force
acts, the pressure changes.
6. Determine the mechanical advantage of the
compound pulley shown here.
• Equipment such as seatbelts and football
helmets spread force over a larger area.
• Pascal’s law states that pressure exerted on
a contained fluid is transmitted unchanged
throughout the fluid.
• Pressure exerted on a gas and on a liquid results
in different outcomes.
FE = 25 N
• Hydraulic systems are closed systems. They
confine a fluid in an enclosed space.
• Pneumatic systems are open systems. Fluid —
usually air — passes through pneumatic devices
under high pressure and then escapes outside
the device.
356 MHR • Mechanical Systems
FL = 100 N
7. Describe how a change in area affects pressure.
8. Explain how a hydraulic lift works.
9. State Pascal’s law and describe some
applications of this principle in hydraulic and
pneumatic systems.
10. Using diagrams, explain how (a) a steam
engine works, and (b) how an internal
combustion engine works.
11. Imagine picking up a bowling ball and
carrying it across the room. Explain the
steps in which you are doing work in the
scientific sense.
15. Choose a mechanical device and make a timeline showing how this device has changed
over time. Write a statement predicting how
this device might change in the future. Use
diagrams if you wish.
12. Give an example of a situation in which you
would want to reduce the force exerted by a
simple machine.
16. Copy the following flow chart into your
notebook and fill in the blanks.
_______ LAW
Developing Skills
13. Complete the following concept map of simple machines, using these words and phrases:
lever, inclined plane, wheel and axle, effort
force, work, pulley, mechanical advantage,
load, and efficiency.
can be
give you a
which is
related to
air usually
Living Body
dental drill
automobile brakes
14. Look at the photograph above of the man
chopping wood with an axe. If the man exerts
an effort force of 80 N and the load force of
the wood is 320 N, what is the mechanical
advantage of the axe?
Unit 4 Review • MHR
17. A typical high school student weighs 725 N
and wears shoes that touch the ground over
an area of 412 cm2.
(a) What is the average pressure the student’s
shoes exert on the ground?
(b) How does the answer to (a) change if the
student stands on one foot?
18. Choose an object found in nature and
speculate about which qualities of the object
scientists might investigate and learn from.
19. Redesign a pen so that it can be used by a
person with severe arthritis in the hands.
design and explain how all of the subsystems
work. Clearly explain how you decided on the
number of nails you used in your juicer.
Design an experiment to test different juice
designs. Identify the manipulated and
responding variables in your experiment. Also,
list criteria for evaluating your design.
25. Describe how your body is similar to a
machine consisting of various subsystems. List
the subsystems present in your body.
26. Describe the simple machines that are found
in this mechanical device.
Problem Solving/Applying
20. Design a pulley system that is similar to the
platform of a window washer. You should be
able to stand on the platform and pull on a
rope that lifts the platform with your own
weight on it. Sketch your pulley system.
21. Why might you choose a gear that would
make you pedal extremely fast while your
bicycle was travelling slowly?
22. Assume that you are able to exert a force of
200 N on the piston of a hydraulic lift that has
an area of 25 cm2. What would the area of the
other plunger have to be if you wanted to lift a
load of 1000 N?
23. Sketch and describe a lever and a hydraulic lift
that would both have a mechanical advantage
of 4. Use numerical values to describe the
length of the lever arms and the areas of the
pistons in the hydraulic lift.
24. Design Your Own You have been given the
task of creating an orange-juicing machine.
The “juicer” of your machine (the part that
will hit the orange) is a piece of Styrofoam™
with one or more nails pushed through it. You
can design the other subsystems of the
machine in any way you wish. Sketch your
358 MHR • Mechanical Systems
27. Give two examples of a technological product
or device that has caused a problem for the
environment, and suggest an existing or
potential solution to the problem.
28. Describe two jobs that use hydraulic and/or
pneumatic systems.
Critical Thinking
29. Design a manually operated machine that will
load a 5 t elephant onto a truck.
30. Machines make work easier, but you always
have to do more work than the machine does
on the load. Explain this statement.
31. Hydraulic systems operate automobile brakes.
Describe one problem that could occur in a
hydraulic system. Think of one reason why a
hydraulic system is more appropriate for
brakes than a mechanical system made of
levers, gears, or pulleys.
39. Describe the changes in society, science, and
technology that have led to changes in wheelchair design from the older model shown here,
to modern, more efficient designs.
32. Think of one advantage and one disadvantage
of using pneumatic systems to power rescue
equipment such as the inflatable rescue
walkway on page 313.
33. The Heimlich manoeuvre is an emergency
technique used to dislodge an object caught
in the throat. How is this technique an
application of Pascal’s law?
34. If you were sinking in quicksand, would it be
better to remain standing or to lie down?
Explain your answer.
35. Why do you think it is important to continue
looking for ways to make machines more
36. How do you think it was possible for
Thomas Savery and James Watt to build steam
engines when they did not know the scientific
principles and theory of heat engines?
37. The steam engine allowed factories to
produce goods faster and more efficiently than
production by hand. Why would the speed
and efficiency of the engine encourage more
people to open factories? Why did the growth
in the number of factories change people’s
lives so dramatically?
38. Explain how changes in society and/or the
environment can affect science and technology.
Give two examples.
Review the ideas described in Unit at a Glance on
page 356. Write a paragraph that summarizes what you
have learned about these ideas.
Unit 4 Review • MHR
Was this manual useful for you? yes no
Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the work of artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Download PDF