Island 1 LEGO Pneumatics-Making a Scissor Lift


Can students build a lift powered by air? Explore pneumatics with LEGOS through mini pneumatic building challenges, finishing with the creation of a scissor lift. Figure out what the strongest lift looks like.


LEGO Pneumatics-Making a Scissor Lift

What is Pneumatics?



Pneumatics is the use of pressurized air to do work. Lots of machines and tools use pneumatics to function. In other words, air pressure can be used to power machines so that they can do what they are designed to do. Pneumatic tools are powerful, fast, and light compared to tools that use other power sources. Builders use them a lot to make jobs easier. Dentists also like pneumatic tools for these reasons.

The Power Of Pressurized Air

Air wants space to move around. When you squeeze it into a smaller space, it pushes back to make its space bigger. This is air pressure. The more you squeeze it, the more the air pushes back.

Single Acting Cylinder

Air is pushed in on the left and the pressure pushes the piston out to the right. The piston acts as a movable wall that sits in a cylinder. Air cannot move past the piston to escape, but the air can push the piston through the cylinder. 

In a pneumatic machine, the piston would be connected to something that would then do work, like a lever or other moving part.

Double Acting Cylinder

Air is pushed in on the left and the pressure pushes the piston out to the right.

Then air is pushed in on the right, which pushes the piston back to its starting place.


Students are challenged to build a scissor lift with LEGO Pneumatics and then explain how it works.