Elevators & Trams

Welcome to Science Expeditions Extras!
Dive deeper into your science kit’s theme and experiments. This month, learn a little extra about elevators and trams.

You may have to search a bit to see the pulleys around you, but they’re everywhere. They’re not just in elevators—they’re also in factories, hospitals, schools and homes. They’re on sailboats, flagpoles, garage doors, cranes and window blinds. Find them on exercise equipment, dump trucks, fishing rods and more. Where else can you spot them?

Learn more about pulleys by making them yourself in your experiments. If you get stuck, watch a tutorial video on how to put your elevator together, and read Aunt Charlie’s experiment tips below. Travel up and down this page to find more fun facts, a photo gallery and a printable.

checklist iconWhat Will You Need?

Gather these household items from the list below before you begin your experiments. Check off items as you go or print the list here. All other materials are included in your kit.

Model Elevator
 clear tape
 sharp pencil

Aerial Tram
 clear tape
 2 chair backs

Fun Facts

Listening to music in elevators became popular in the 1920s because first-time passengers were frightened to ride in the machine.

The Roosevelt Island tram in New York City was the first aerial tram to be used for mass transit in the U.S. The tram’s ride over the East River has become a regular part of the day for thousands of urban commuters.

“Door Close” buttons on elevators don’t actually make the door close more quickly. Since the 1990s, most elevators have been programmed to close on their own schedules.

Aunt Charlie’s Corner

Aunt Charlie’s Corner

Expert tips to complete this month’s science experiments!

Icon Model Elevator

Watch this experiment!

  • Cutting your cardboard box may be difficult; ask an adult for help.
  • Be careful when handing the eyelet screws because the ends are sharp; ask an adult for help.
  • Take your time to measure the holes in the box accurately. Double check that the holes align.
  • To measure the hole in your elevator shaft wall, align the wall against the side of the box and make a mark through one of the holes on the side of the box.
  • When attaching the pulley holders, make sure the gasket sides face the front and back of your elevator.
  • Before you tie your string onto the hand crank, make sure the string is taut. After you tie it, add tape to create more tension between the hand crank and string. This will help your elevator operate more smoothly.

Icon Aerial Tram

  • Be careful using the rubber bands, as they can snap. Don’t try to stretch the rubber bands on chair backs wider than 17 inches.
  • Remember to tape the ends of your aerial tram platforms to keep them closed.
  • Your aerial tram is only meant to support a very light weight, like paper. Don’t put any heavy weight on your tram, as this will interfere with its movement.

Help Sam and Sofia meet up with Aunt Charlie. Coordinate their tram schedules with this fun printable.

Download the printable here.

Check your answers here.

Elevators and Trams Printable


Beautiful views from elevators and trams around the world!

Flip through the gallery.

Explore More

Click a button below to learn about another science theme.