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Designing a water-balanced railway

Making a model lift system

The cliff railway is powered by gravity. Using a construction kit like LEGO, can you model a counterbalanced lift system?

Your system should have two cages on which you can put small weights. Put some weights by hand into the lower cage, then add weights to the higher cage so that it pulls the lower cage to the top.

  • How can you stop the heavier cage running away and crashing to the bottom? Can you design a release mechanism that senses when the higher cage is heavier and then allows the lift to run?
  • Can you devise a way to control the speed at which the cage travels down?
  • Can you make sure that the lift stops in the right place?
  • Can you control this with a computer?

    Note to teachers: This is not an easy task and might lend itself to an after-school engineering club.

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    Practical Action - Technology challenging povertyEuropean Commission - Department for International Development

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