Explore Together (indoors): Build Ramps

  • boxes and other objects to prop up cardboard ramps
  • camera or cell phone with camera
  • flat pieces of cardboard to serve as ramps
  • objects to roll and slide down ramps (e.g., cardboard tubes, markers, rolls of duct tape, rocks, balls of various sizes and weights, toy cars and animals, blocks, boxes, squares of cardboard) 
  • fast
  • faster
  • inclined plane
  • ramp
  • roll
  • slide (v.)
  • slow

MA Standards:

Language/L.PK.MA.6: Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, listening to books read aloud, activities, and play.

MA Draft STE Standards:

Physical Sciences/Motion and Stability; Forces and Interaction/PS2.A: Plan and carry out investigations of the behaviors of moving things.
Physical Sciences/Motion and Stability; Forces and Interaction/PS2.B: Using evidence, discuss ideas about what is making something move the way it does and how some movements can be controlled. [Cause and Effect, Stability and Change]

Head Start Outcomes:

Logic and Reasoning/Reasoning and Problem Solving: Classifies, compares, and contrasts objects, events, and experiences.
Science Knowledge/Scientific Skills and Method: Uses senses and tools, including technology, to gather information, investigate materials, and observe processes and relationships.
Science Knowledge/Scientific Skills and Method: Collects, describes, and records information through discussions, drawings, maps, and charts.

PreK Learning Guidelines:

English Language Arts/Language 2: Participate actively in discussions, listen to the ideas of others, and ask and answer relevant questions.
Science and Technology/Inquiry Skills 4: Record observations and share ideas through simple forms of representation such as drawings.

Explore Together (indoors): Build Ramps

© Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Department of Early Education and Care (Jennifer Waddell photographer). All rights reserved.

STEM Key Concepts: Understand that a ramp, or inclined plane, is a surface with one end higher than the other; Recognize that an object placed on an inclined plane will roll, slide, or stay put

ELA Focus Skills: Predicting, Speaking and Listening, Vocabulary

Educator Prep: Select an indoor area where children can build ramps. You may choose to have ramps built facing a wall so that rolling objects will stop at the wall, or you may want to use a cushion as a bumper. Noticing the distance that objects roll after leaving the ramp is an important part of exploration, so finding adequate space and opportunities for children to do this is valuable.

Tell children that they will work with a small group to build more ramps. Explain that a ramp is also called an inclined plane. Assign groups an area where they can build a ramp.

Allow children to freely explore the materials. Encourage them to notice how the objects are alike or different (size, shape, texture, etc.) before they send them down the ramp.  

Observe children closely as they work and notice what captures their attention so you can engage them in conversation. Discuss what they are making or doing and what they are noticing and wondering. Ask questions such as,

  • What do you think will happen if you place the marker pointing down on the ramp? Can you find other objects that move like that?
  • What did you notice about the way the box moved when you made the slanted plane steeper?

Encourage children to use vocabulary such as ramp, roll, slide, inclined plane, fast, and slow as they share their ideas and ask questions. Take pictures (or have children take pictures) of the ramp constructions or have children draw a picture of their ramp so they can revisit the structures even after they are dismantled.

Reflect and Share
Have children share their ramps and discoveries. Show some of the photos and have children describe how they are being scientists. Prompt discussion by asking questions such as,

  • Why do you think the box slid to the bottom of the ramp but the rock didn’t slide all the way to the bottom?
  • What did you notice about the way the pinecone moved down the ramp?
  • How did you get the tin can to go faster than the cube?
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Email this page Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Email this page