The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 2, 2001


Student lifts teacher using simple machines

A feat of amazing strength was performed on Wednesday, October 24, when third-grade student Lucy King lifted a teacher during the "TechSploration" assembly for third, fourth, and fifth grades. The Cultural Enrichment Committee of the Carlisle School Association sponsored the show.

Tom Wahle, a certified technology education teacher, brought his "Simple Machines" show to the auditorium at the Carlisle School. Formerly a teacher and stay-home dad, he went back to work and "decided to take his technology teaching on the road." He finds the parts for his amazing creations in junk yards and his ideas flow from science museums, saying that every trip includes dragging his family to the closest museum. He is currently working on a book based on his show and workshops.

He started the program by having the kids chant "Simple machines help us do work by trading distance for effort." Demonstrating that principle, Lucy was at first unable to lift the teacher when the lever, in this case a ladder, was six feet long. Extending the ladder to twelve feet, thus exchanging distance for effort, Lucy easily lifted the teacher.

Water balloon spooks crowd

Wahle explained three different classes of levers, and throughout the program had slides to show real uses of incline planes, levers, gears, and block and tackles. He also used familiar levers such as a lacrosse stick (a third-class lever) which he used to create a catapult. He had the audience's full attention when he sent a fake water balloon soaring over their heads.

The program was educational and extremely entertaining. Wahle introduced "Stinky," Simba's evil brother who lived on flying goldfish, and engaged the audience by using volunteers. With four boys, he created a structure with rods, ropes and pulleys. He had third grader Hannah Parra pull a rope attached to the structure, and though the boys attempted to hold their ground, the structure enabled Hannah to pull the boys together.

Wahle and another student volunteer added gears, pulleys, levers, wheels, handles, and a catapult to the ladder structure, creating a machine that spun a fan, waved a flag, sent balls whirling, played chimes, and fed Stinky his flying goldfish.

Teachers sing the blues

Teachers Bill Tate and Gene Stamell join Tom Wahle in song. (Photo by Cynthia Sorn)
The program finale had the whole audience clapping and hooting. Wahle asked for musical assistance from teachers to sing a tribute to Archimedes, the Greek mathematician. Third-grade teacher Gene Stamell, known for his guitar playing, and fifth-grade teacher Bill Tate, showing obvious jazz talent, were game enough to belt out a blues ballad, to the accompaniment of Wahle's surprisingly adept harmonica playing. Perhaps the tune will be released on CD in the distant future.

2001 The Carlisle Mosquito