PVC Pipes are awesome for building projects any day! ! This homemade pulley system is very easy to make with just a few simple materials. Exploring how a simple machine pulley works to lift heavy objects makes for a great STEM project. Play with engineering, science, and a little math too!

Make A Pulley For STEM

I love to use and reuse what I have on hand for our DIY STEM projects. I like to keep it simple and I like to keep it cheap! For this DIY pulley system, I did purchase the plastic PVC tubing at the hardware store {$5}. I can see tons of ways we will reuse the tubing for more activities down the road.

The hardware store is an amazing resource for alternative toys. Did you see our PVC Pipe House we made! The possibilities are endless. My son loves using “real” household items for play rather than toys. This PVC pipe pulley engineering project was right up his alley.

BUILD: PVC Pipe Water Wall, PVC Pipe House, PVC Pipe Heart

This was also an awesome father/son project! My husband took the lead and showed our son all about how pulleys work! He even showed him about Z Pulley Systems {used mainly in rescue situations}. They explored the concept of friction, weight, and gravity. Plus they hauled LEGO, so that’s always fun!

It’s amazing what you can make for play and learning. STEM activities are easy and engaging for young children! Give it a try and head to your local hardware store the next time you want to find a new activity. These PVC pipes are pretty and easy!

How Does A Pulley Work?

Pulleys are simple machines that have one or more wheels over which a rope is looped. Pulleys can help us lift heavy things more easily. Our homemade pulley system below doesn’t necessarily reduce the weight of what we are lifting, but it does help us move it with less effort!

If you want to lift a really heavy weight, there’s only so much force your muscles can supply, even if you are the world’s strongest person. But use a simple machine like a pulley and you can multiply the force your body produces.

The object lifted by a pulley is called the load. The force applied to the pulley is called the effort. Pulleys require kinetic energy to function.

The earliest evidence of pulleys dates back to Ancient Egypt. Now days, you will find pulleys on clotheslines, flagpoles, and cranes. Can you think of any more uses?

LOOK: How To Make A Mini Pulley System and Outdoor Pulley System


What Is STEM For Kids?

So you might ask, what does STEM actually stand for? STEM stands for 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, to use and to understand STEM.

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

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

Engineering is an important part of STEM. What is engineering in kindergarten and elementary? Well, it’s putting together simple structures and other items, and in the process, learning about the science behind them. Essentially, it’s a whole lot of doing! 

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 To Make A Pulley

Amazon Affiliate Links

Supplies Needed:

PVC pipe heart materials for building projectPin


We used the pieces we already had available from our PVC pipe house building project earlier. We simply needed a tall structure with a sturdy base on either side. You can design it any way you want. Ours is 29″ high. We used a piece of parachute cord and a small plastic cup as our rope and bucket.

PVC Pipe Pulley Sytem Simple Machine Engineering STEM ActivityPin

Design a pulley all of your own! Working with an older child? Have him or her draw it out and add measurements.

Our son enjoyed using his tape measure to check out the lengths of the different sections and he also helped us make both sides even. He has an amazing ability to look and quickly problem solve.

Here are some close up photos and a side view of our pulley system!

PVC Pipe Pulley System for Kids Simple MachinePin

 Not only is this PVC pipe pulley system a great toy, it’s also an amazing learning activity! My boys had a great time making their PVC pipe pulley system, testing it, and adding it to our PVC pipe house we made earlier!

Extend The Learning

Explore different weights with your PVC pipe pulley system. Here are a few questions you can ask…

  • How does friction and gravity work with different weighted objects?
  • By arranging angles for lines around the PVC pipes can you make a Z shape for a Z pulley?
  • How is a Z Pulley different than a regular pulley?
  • Can you make the bucket go up by pulling the rope down?
  • Can you make the bucket go up by pulling the rope up? {depends on anchor points around pipes}
PVC Pipe Pulley System PVC Pipe House Simple Machines for KidsPin

More Fun Engineering Projects

When you finish with your DIY pulley system, why not explore more engineering with one of these ideas below. You can find all our engineering activities for kids here!

Build a DIY solar oven.

Construct a marble run wall from pool noodles.

Make this erupting bottle rocket.

Construct a working Archimedes screw simple machine.

Make a paper helicopter and explore motion in action.

Printable Engineering Projects Pack

Get started with STEM and engineering projects today with this fantastic resource that includes all the information you need to complete more than 50 activities that encourage STEM skills!


  1. Excellent short article, i did read it twice so sorry for this, i’ve passed it on to
    my mates, so with a bit of luck they will enjoy it as well.

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