If you are like me, then you have a big container of recycled materials and cool items you can’t bear to get rid of! That’s exactly how we built this hand crank winch simple machine.  Using recycled items for STEM projects is an awesome way to re-use and re-purpose common items you would normally recycle or throw away.  This simple machine for kids is a fun STEM activity to try!

 Winch Simple machines Recycled STEM Activity Pin

Explore Simple Machines For Kids

Building simple machines with kids is a great way to show them how stuff works! Our winch craft is truly an easy STEM activity with big impact.

Using recycled items to make cool things allows awesome STEM challenges to be accessible to ALL kids! Plus any activity that uses recycled materials is great for the environment!

Building simple machines with kids is tons of fun and gives them a great chance to troubleshoot problems and come up with creative solutions. Raid the recycling bin to make your simple machines this year. Building machines makes an awesome STEM challenge for a variety of age groups too.

Add to the learning with these printable simple machine worksheets!


What Is STEM For Kids?

So you might ask, what does STEM actually stand for? STEM is science, technology, engineering, and math. The most important thing you can take away from this, is that STEM is for everyone!

Yes, kids of all ages can work on STEM projects and enjoy STEM lessons.  STEM activities are great for group work, too!

STEM is everywhere! Just look around.  The simple fact that STEM surrounds us is why it’s so important for kids to be a part of, use, and understand STEM.

Interested in STEM plus ART? Check out all our STEAM Activities!

From the buildings you see in town, the bridges that connect places, the computers we use, the software programs that go with them, and compasses for navigation, STEM is what makes it all possible.

Helpful STEM Resources To Get You Started

Here are a few resources that will help you introduce STEM more effectively to your kiddos or students and feel confident yourself when presenting materials. You’ll find helpful free printables throughout.

How Does A Hand Crank Winch Work

A hand crank winch is a tool that people use to lift or pull heavy things. It’s like a big handle that makes lifting or moving big objects much easier.

Imagine you have a big bucket of toys, and you want to lift it up to a shelf. But it’s too heavy to lift with your hands alone. That’s where the hand crank winch comes in.

You attach a strong rope to the bucket, and the other end of the rope is wrapped around a special spool inside the winch. Now, here’s the cool part. You turn the handle of the winch, and as you turn it, the spool inside the winch turns too.

When you turn the handle, it’s like you’re using a super-strong hand to lift the bucket. The spool pulls the rope, and the bucket goes up. Turning the handle is much easier than lifting the heavy bucket directly because the winch multiplies your strength. It’s like using a lever to make your job easier.

So, a hand crank winch works by using a simple handle to turn a spool, and that spool helps you lift or pull heavy things, making your tasks a lot easier. It’s a handy tool that can help with all kinds of lifting and pulling jobs!

Turn It Into A Science Project

Science projects are an excellent tool for older kiddos to show what they know about science! Plus, they can be used in all sorts of environments including classrooms, homeschool, and groups.

Kids can take everything they have learned about using the scientific method, stating a hypothesis, choosing variables, making observations and analyzing and presenting data.

Want to turn one of these experiments into an awesome science fair project? Check out these helpful resources.

Grab this FREE Engineering Challenge Calendar today!

How To Make A Simple Hand Crank Winch


  • Cardboard Tubes
  • Spool {can be optional, see below}
  • Straw or Pencil
  • String
  • Tape, Scissors
  • Small Basket {object to attach to string}
supplies for winch craftPin


Here’s the picture diagram of the four major steps to building this winch simple machine. I will describe the steps below the picture.

STEP 1: Tape 2 cardboard tubes to a solid surface. Use your straw as a reference tool for how far apart they should be placed from each other.

STEP 2: Make 2 cuts at the top of each cardboard tube just big enough of the straw or pencil to rest and be able to spin.

STEP 3: Put your spool on the straw or pencil. Now if you don’t have a spool, you can simply secure your rope to the straw or pencil with a piece of tape. You still have a hand crank winch! If you do use a spool make sure to secure it with tape to the straw or pencil.

What if you don’t secure it? The spool just spins around the straw and there is no ending up of string! We learned this concept with our rubber band car too!

If you are using a straw, you can even thread another straw into it and use the bendy part to make a handle!

STEP 4: Secure your rope or string to spool with a piece of tape {or to straw directly if you don’t have a spool} and tie your basket or object to the bottom of the string.

Go ahead and test out your hand crank winch simple machine. What can you pull up with it? Do you think it makes lifting heavy things easier. Another great idea is to test out a pulley simple machine!

A simple machine such as this winch is used to raise and lower weight. An example of a winch that is pretty easy to get a picture of is a bucket in a well!

He chose to sketch his simple machine all on his own.

More Easy Simple Machines To Build

Check out all our simple machine projects here or explore the projects below…

Printable Simple Machines Pack

Explore, through hands-on activities, the six simple machines, including the wheel and axle, lever, screw, incline plane, pulley, and wedge, with easy-to-digest information and a totally do-able project!

What’s Included:

  • 6 simple machines projects: One for each machine including the wheel/axle, lever, wedge, screw, pulley, and inclined plane 
  • Instructions, pictures, and templates (if applicable) for each project
  • Informational sheet on each simple machine with easy-to-digest information that is perfect for kids to read.
  • A quick video to watch illustrating the different machines.
  • Fun extras are perfect for early finishers, quiet time, or to send home to extend the learning.



  1. This was very helpful for my science project and it was the one I just needed for my pulley project.
    Thank You!

  2. Thank you! We have lots of fun inventing and building simple machines with our recyclables!

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