Each of the four crane sets contained sections to construct the frame with a handle connected to a rod holding the bobbin used to raise and lower the hook. Children were asked if they thought the task was easy or required considerable effort to wind up the thread lifting 220 grams. Children agreed that the simple pulley system would have been hard work for people hoisting cargo from boats to the warehouses over a hundred years ago. "It would be impossible to do this everyday!" one girl said as she imagined the workers at Gloucester Docks.
Anna then suggested that gears could be added to the crane's frame to create a mechanical advantage to make the task easier and effortless. Children explored three different sized gears to experiment which combination would work best and with a little assistance, they successfully managed to improve their machine's efficiency - a simple, but brilliant invention!
Anna encouraged the children to get the cogs in their own minds working to find a scientific solution to what would have been a real problem on the industrious canals in the Victorian era. The activity proved to be popular from toddlers to teens with differing learning levels for all abilities. The Cheltenham Science Group is a great way to open up opportunities to our local budding engineers!