Let’s Celebrate: Hydraulics

posted in: blog, Let's celebrate | 11

Did you know that without hydraulics our lives would be very different? If you don’t believe me, let’s look at where hydraulics are applied in our lives.
Hydraulics are used in lifts which firefighters use in order to reach heights. The brakes in our car is one of the most common examples.  Construction equipment (such as cranes, bulldozers, backhoes, forklifts, and jacks) all use hydraulics to do their job. Airplanes use hydraulics in order to operate their controls. Amusement parks use hydraulics, an example of this is the motor that rotates the Ferris Wheel. Bakeries can use hydraulics in order to lift, flip, and move to conveyors belts when packaging. Office chairs and barber chairs use hydraulics in order to lift or lower the chair.

To explain hydraulics to our children we first have to talk to our children about force, pressure and area.

What is force? Force is simply how hard one object is pushing on another. As a demonstration, ask your children which one is easier, to push a shopping cart or to push a car? A shopping cart is easier because it requires less force.

What is pressure? By definition, “Pressure is the force applied perpendicular to the surface of an object per unit area over which that force is distributed.” To think of this simply, ask your child to push a book, an apple, a toy car, or any other object using only his or her finger. Now have your child push the same objects using their hands. Which one feels easier? Pushing it with their hand feels easier. This is because you are using a larger area to move that object, the area of your hand is greater than the area of your finger. The force to move the previous object does not change but because you are pushing it with a smaller area you must exert a higher pressure.

Introduce the Formula: P=F/A and explain that this formula is the relationship between force, pressure and area. P: Pressure, F:Force, and A: Area.

Remind your child that if force increases then pressure increases and if area increases then pressure decreases.

Another example you can play with is to have your child walk on one egg and then have them try walking on many eggs. Let them see that  when they stand on one egg they are exerting lots of pressure and most likely the egg will crack. If they stand on a dozen eggs then the eggs will not crack because more eggs means a greater area which causes less pressure on each egg. Check out our post Let’s Celebrate Eggs.

This is a great time to introduce the brilliant French mathematician Blaise Pascal and Pascal Law: “In a fluid at rest in a closed container, a pressure change in one part is transmitted without loss to every portion of the fluid and to the walls of the container.”

Now let’s talk about fluid pressure. When you have a syringe with water and you press it down, water pressure is acting evenly in all directions. When we have two syringes and a tube this is known as a closed system or a confined fluid. Here the fluids can move around within the system but water never comes out of the system. If you get wet then it is not considered a closed system.






We were blessed with a hydraulics crate from The RumbleLab. They are extremely helpful and awesome. If you have a question or a problem just email them and they will be glad to help you out. We broke one of the pieces and they are sending us the new part. Every month they offer a new RumbleLab Challenge crate for only $32.99 a month. No need to think of what to do next with your kiddos because they have you covered. In the beginning of each month you will receive the crate. You can go to their website and watch videos on how to put your crate together and a list of activities you can do with your children. For this crate they suggested us to try the hydraulic thumb war, mechanical advantage thumb war, hydraulic pump, and hydraulic can crusher. Now that you have these amazing parts why not have some more fun by making a car jack, moving a boat in water, catching a fish using magnets, and making an elevator using a shoe box. The possibilities are endless and we know that we can always go to our hydraulics box on a rainy day and experience hours of fun.

The new crate is available today, hop on over to The Rumblelab . You won’t want to miss out on the fun. 🙂

Hydraulic Thumb War:

All you need for the thumb war is two syringes and a long tube. Whomever can lift the syringe plunger wins. Esther won every single time, poor Peter. This was lots of fun and we were able to take the thumb war to another level.

thumb war





Having fun with Hydraulics:


Car Jack:

For the car jack all you need is a small tube, two syringes, some sort of plastic container, tape, and a car. Make two holes in the container, one on top and one on the side.

car jack




Playing with water is so much fun. Make a boat move back and forth.

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hydrolics boat




We fished using the two syringes and a long tube. It was neat to see how the fish moved in the water when the magnet came close to the nails.

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hydrolics fishing rod


Mechanical Advantage Thumb War:

Peter was so glad when he was finally able to win. Even Daddy could not beat Peter using a syringe 9 times smaller. Watch the videos below to see why.

Elevator Fun:

Elevators use hydraulics and are able to lift people or cars to the desired level. So neat to watch.

hydrolic elevators



Hydraulic Pump:

We see this being applied in real life when we pump gas, water our flowers, or use a spray bottle.

rumble lab

Hydraulic Can Crusher:

Playing with the can crusher was the best part about learning hydraulics.I think we will crush all our bottles this way.

can crusher




Hydraulic Walnut Crusher:

Let’s see what else we can crush……walnuts, ice, eggs…..I think we will be having lots of fun crushing different things in the weeks to come.

crushing a walnut




What we learned from the mistakes we made:

We went on our vacation to Steep Ravine Cabins without watching the instruction videos.

We attempted to crush the whole can with juice in it. What happened was the wooden piece that had four holes and is meant to hold the four syringes broke. I was so embarrassed to let The RumbleLab know that we had broken it. Hubby was kind enough to make a new wooden piece for us. It really helps to have a husband who can fix and make things. When I sent Rumblelab pictures of us they noticed that a piece had been replaced and told me that they have shipped the new part and if anything ever broke again to let them know and they would be glad to send us a new piece.

What we learned as we tried to crush a full can of juice…..

In life there are many different types of pressures that we encounter every single day. There is peer pressure, the pressure to succeed or to do well, the pressure to fit in, to get everything done, and so much more. When we are under pressure we are not able to handle things well and start to cry, scream, and act in ways we usually wouldn’t.

When we tried to crush the can the tubes kept popping off because they could not handle that much pressure. When we tightened the tubes the second weakest part was the wood piece with the four holes in it.

We all have weak points and if the right buttons are pushed we can break down as well. It is important for us to be able to understand when to walk away, quit something, or ask for help.

If we stopped when the tubes first started popping off then the wooden piece would have not broken. We should have stopped the experiment and should have asked Rumblelab for help. So glad that we were able to have this valuable discussion with our children. So many lessons to learn in life. Thank you Rumblelab for this incredible crate, we had so much fun.

cancrushing fail1









11 Responses

  1. What an awesome lesson, you continue to amaze me with your creativity. This is such a cool hands-on lesson, you can tell your kids had such a fun time doing this (I bet you did too) and I’m definitely going to look at rumblelab to order some activities for my kids. WOW, thank you so much you are a true inspiration =) xoxo

  2. What a great lesson! The kids looked like they had fun which is half the battle. I loved coming up with lessons so many years ago when we homeschooled

  3. I love this blog post! Very useful 🙂 Thank you for sharing on Top-Notch Tuesday!

  4. This looks so awesome, what a fun way to learn!

  5. What a great way to teach hydraulics – syringes!!! I am so excited to show these videos to our crew to see which one they want to try first! Thank you for taking the time to document your homeschool adventures – it’s so nice to have a visual reference. I predict the “new” thumb-wars will be a new fave in our house!!

  6. This looks like a really cool set to teach kids but also to engage them in the learning. I love hands on things where the kids learn through real life. 😀

  7. What a great set of activities, my son would love trying some of these. I used to sell products to hydraulics companies, but little did I know then that my 6 year would be obsessed with hydraulic machines.

  8. Wow! What fun lessons. My boys would love these. My husband works with hydraulics so they do know what they are and how they work but this would be a great hands on lesson for them.

  9. Cool! I noticed that they put a picture of your kiddos on their home page! What would you say is the good age for this? I wonder, if my kids are old enough. It definitely looks amazing! Forget the kids, I know I will be very excited to play with this crate.

  10. Homegrown Adventures

    Eva… Rumble Lab is so amazing. 🙂 Their crates are created for children 7 though 15 years of age. I think your children would love it.

  11. I am a science geek so I love to see families learning these things together. If you were closer I would encourage you to have your kiddos come to the science fair I coordinate for homeschooling families. 🙂 Great job momma!

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