STEAM

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STEAM: Pulley Cable Car

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Learn about the concept of force and simple machines by engineering your very own pulley cable car to transport up and down an incline.

  • Step 1Take the box lid and cut slits in 2 of the corners. Adult supervision is recommended when using scissors. Fold the flap down and tuck into the box so the lid sits at a 90 degree angle to the box, with the lip of the lid facing outwards. Secure in place using glue dots along the flap.
  • Step 2Position 2 popsticks vertically down the lid and side of the box. Use glue dots to hold them in place as support brackets. This will be the cable car that gets transported up and down the incline.
  • Step 3Decorate your cable car. We have used white paint and Washi Glitter Tape. Allow to dry if needed.
  • Step 4Cut a piece of wooden skewer approximately 4cm in length. Wrap a loom band around one end and then slide a pulley onto the skewer. The band will stop the pulley from sliding off. Repeat this process so you have 2 pieces of skewer threaded with a pulley and band.
  • Step 5Take a hobby knife and carefully create a slit 1cm in from the top and side of the top of the cable car. Repeat this on the other side. Adult supervision is recommended when using a hobby knife. Push the end of each skewer through the slit so the band and pulley are on the front side of the cable car. Flip the cable car over and wrap loom bands around the skewers at the back to hold them in place.
  • There’s no need to create a large hole here. A small slit will ensure the skewer is held tightly in place when we push it through.
  • Step 6Create another small slit using the hobby knife, positioning it between the pulleys and approximately 3.5cm from the top. Cut another 4cm piece of skewer and slide through the slit, securing on both sides with loom bands.
  • Step 7Take a length of embroidery thread. We have used 2m but depending on where you’re stringing your cable car you may wish to use more or less (get those experimental science brains working!). Tie a loop at one end to create a slip knot, then loop the slip knot over the centre peg you created in step 6. Pull it tight for a firm hold - this will be used to pull your cable car up and down the incline.
  • Step 8Now to create the cable car track. Take another length of embroidery thread (we have used 2m but you may need more or less depending on where you are going to string your track). Tie a loop at one end then create a slip knot. Loop the slip knot over the top of a chair and pull tight to secure. Take a split ring and slide it onto the embroidery thread, making sure it is attached within the slip knot.
  • We are using 2 chairs, tying the track from the top of one to the bottom of the other to create the inclined cable car track. You could tie your track from any position such as a hook on the wall down to a chair or a tree branch to a bench etc. as long as there is an incline.
  • Step 9Tie a loop at the other end of the thread and create a slip knot to slip onto the leg of another chair. Pull tight to secure and position the chairs so the thread is pulled tight and the track is on an incline.
  • Step 10Place your cable car onto the track. Make sure both pulleys are sitting on top of the track. Pass the piece of thread that is attached to the cable car, through the split ring, holding the tension tight so the cable car remains at the top of the incline ready to descend.
  • Step 11Place a character or cargo into your cable car and slowly release the tension of the thread to see the cable car move down the track. Pull on the sting to make the cable car come back up!

Materials used in this activity

Wooden Skewers - Pack of 100
Optional
Product Code: 10014
EACH $3.29 (inc GST) $2.99 (ex GST)
3 or more $2.13 (inc GST) $1.94 (ex GST)          
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Popsticks - Natural - Pack of 1,000
Optional
Product Code: 10864
EACH $14.29 (inc GST) $12.99 (ex GST)
4 or more $9.89 (inc GST) $8.99 (ex GST)          
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Split Rings - Silver - Pack of 10
Optional
Product Code: 11186
EACH $5.49 (inc GST) $4.99 (ex GST)
10 to 19 $4.39 (inc GST) $3.99 (ex GST) 20 or more $3.29 (inc GST) $2.99 (ex GST)
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Papier Mache Box - Square
Optional
Product Code: 11205
EACH $2.20 (inc GST) $2.00 (ex GST)
50 or more $1.65 (inc GST) $1.50 (ex GST)          
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Product Code: 12381
EACH $5.49 (inc GST) $4.99 (ex GST)
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CleverPatch Glue Dots - Permanent - Pack of 300
Optional
Product Code: 15173
EACH $14.29 (inc GST) $12.99 (ex GST)
6 or more $10.71 (inc GST) $9.74 (ex GST)          
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Product Code: 15518
EACH $3.30 (inc GST) $3.00 (ex GST)
Increase value Decrease value
Product Code: 16886
EACH $3.29 (inc GST) $2.99 (ex GST)
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Product Code: 18155
EACH Was: $32.99 Now: $16.50 (inc GST) Was: $29.99 Now: $15.00 (ex GST)
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Product Code: 18751
EACH Was: $21.99 Now: $5.50 (inc GST) Was: $19.99 Now: $5.00 (ex GST)
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Product Code: 18766
EACH Was: $4.39 Now: $2.20 (inc GST) Was: $3.99 Now: $2.00 (ex GST)
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Loom Bands - Rainbow Colours - Pack of 300
Optional
Product Code: 18874
EACH $5.49 (inc GST) $4.99 (ex GST)
20 or more $3.29 (inc GST) $2.99 (ex GST)          
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