In Unit 5, children explore the science behind inclined planes (ramps). Through free exploration and guided, hands-on activities, children investigate and observe and describe the way objects move when they are placed on ramps of different steepness, when they leave ramps, and when they hit other objects.
- Rolling and Sliding (Week One). Children investigate how different objects move when placed on an inclined plane, or ramp—a surface with one end higher than the other. Some objects roll down, some slide down, and some do not move at all. Children become aware that the shape and texture of an object affects whether it will roll or slide. They predict the behavior of a given object, place it on a ramp, and confirm or revise their predictions. Children also identify how people use ramps every day, such as sidewalk ramps for wheelchair access, and on-ramps for highway access.
- Building Ramps (Week Two). Children focus on building their own ramps, and rolling and sliding objects on their ramps, documenting their observations. Children sort objects into categories: things that roll, things that slide, things that roll and slide, and things that do not move at all. As they explore, children begin to see the importance of the texture of an object and of the inclined plane. Children build long trackways and investigate how to make a ball roll through to the end.
- Steeper, Faster, Farther (Week Three). Children discover that usually the steeper the ramp, the farther an object will roll. Measuring with nonstandard measuring tools confirms how far objects roll off the ramps. Looking for and documenting the use of ramps in many places, children discover that the human body can be used like a ramp and investigate rolling objects off their limbs. Children also become aware of another important simple machine, the wheel, and discover the many ways wheels help people at work or play.
- Keep on Rolling (Week Four). Children investigate what happens when a ball rolls down a ramp and hits an obstacle. They create their own obstacle courses to find out how to keep an object rolling. Children also discover that when skates and sleds slide on an inclined plane, namely a steep slope, they go faster and must veer around obstacles in their way.
Children’s learning is supported through daily hands-on exploration and by listening to read-aloud books and watching media throughout the unit. Children also begin to learn strategies they can use for communicating with others, making good choices, problem solving, cooperation and planning, and getting along with others.