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Leverage: How To Make a Stone Age Axe

In this experiment, we learned in a matter of minutes, a scientific principle which might have taken our stone age ancestors centuries to figure out.  The epiphany: “A stone tool is much more effective when attached to a long stick.”  The picture above was our first try at a little stone age axe. Although yours may look different, the principle is the same.  The experiment displays the principle of leverage, and the mechanical advantage at the fulcrum (pivot point) by adding a lever (like a stick) to increase force (at the head of the stone age tool).

MATERIALS

– A flat stone about the size of a bar of soap (or smaller for an easier project).

– A stick  (not too dry) large enough to allow for your stone to be wedged in between.

– A sharp wooden wedge from a branch (to pry open a gap in your stick).

– Rope (or in our case, ivy vines for extra stone age effect).

– Gloves (for safety).

– A friend (or parent) for help.

 

1. Examine your stone and decide which end would best serve as the striking point.  This is the side that will protrude out of your stick.

2. Position the wooden wedge about halfway up the length of the stick (stone age tools were crafted this way for added strength when assembling the tool).

3. Wear gloves, and use the flat side of the rock as a hammer to bang the wedge into the center of your stick creating a gap that can fit the stone.

4. Slip the stone into the wedge with your sharp side facing outward as a striking tool.

5. Take your rope or twine and crisscross two lengths together to create a strengthened rope called a cordage (the earliest form of rope).

6.  Make sure your rock is secured in the center of your stick, and fasten your cordage around either side of the stone to secure it in place.

7. Cut (or break) the end of your stick, just above the stone to make a more traditional tool if desired.

8. Be careful when swinging your axe, as even the best crafted stone age tools sometimes became dislodged.

9. Congrats, you just made a stone age tool.