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Homework Help: Would a toy car wheel count as a simple machine?

  1. Jun 6, 2012 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    I currently am confused about a, probably, simple problem >.<
    Back in primary school and middle school, my science teachers taught me that one of the simplest examples of a wheel and axle would the the wheels of a car (in this case a toy one), which made sense to me at the time.

    Now, however, I am required to include several simple machines into a Rube Goldberg machine for my physics class. Obviously, I would decide to include some toy cars, to represent wheel and axle. But after a bit of research, I have been getting some mixed results. Some say that it only is a wheel and axle if the turning of the wheel, leading to the turning to the axle, is what has to do the work (think of a fishing rod, spinning the handle spins the axle, pulling the string with (hopefully) fish attached.)

    Now, following this definition of the wheel and axle, the wheels of a toy car no longer is a simple machine. So I am hoping if someone here can clear things up for me?

    Thank you very much,
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 6, 2012 #2


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    A "simple machine" is anything that helps you do work by applying a lesser force. In particular, it is easier to transport a load across a distance if you put it on wheels than if you drag it across a surface. Yes, a wheel is a "simple machine".
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