Pocket Genius Science: Energy and forces – Complex machines

Facts At Your Fingertips: Energy and forces – Complex machines

Simple machines can be combined to make complex machines. A pair of scissors is a complex machine that combines two types of simple machine—the blades as wedges and the handles as levers.

The Space Shuttle was probably the most complex machine ever built, with more than 2.5 million separate parts.


A mobile crane combines three simple machines to pick up loads and move them.

The load is lifted vertically using pulleys, which are attached to a jib. The jib acts as a lever.

The crane is mounted on wheels so it can move around.


A car contains many simple machines.

The wheels are attached to a gearbox, which allows the car to move at different speeds. The driver changes gears by pulling on the gearstick, which is a lever.

The engine changes the energy from burning fuel into movements that turn the wheels.

Boring drill

A boring drill is a machine used to make deep holes in the ground.

The drill bit is a screw with a sharp wedge on one end. A powerful engine turns the drill bit using a large force so that it can cut through hard ground and rock.