exploring ramps
Ramps are fun for kids to explore. Rolling objects down or pushing objects up them seems to fascinate them. While they are really conducting simple science experiments with the concepts of force and gravity, kids may just think they are having fun. Recently my son and I build a simple ramp using cookbooks found in our kitchen. We used several cookbooks in a traditional book shape to give the ramp height and three ring binder style cookbook to act as the ramp. At the end of the ramp we placed an empty coffee container and later a basket to catch the balls my son was going to roll up the ramp. Then my son gathered up a collection of ball that could be rolled up the ramp. Thankfully he was able to quickly gather a basket filled with them in a short period of time.
basket of balls
What were the goals of the experiment:
  • Find out if rolling or pushing the ball helps it get to the end of the ramp,
  • Find out if one type of ball is easier to get to the end of the ramp than the others.
  • Find out if there is a place at the bottom of the ramp that it was best to start a ball of from.
Here is what conclusions we came to: If you push the ball to the end of the ramp, it tends to continue to move forward into the coffee can. ramp_football If you roll the ball from the bottom edge of the cookbook and then let go, one of two things can happen. The ball can roll back to you or it can fly off the front edge of the cookbook and miss the coffee can. The small bouncy ball is hardest to control even if you push it. cookbook baskets ball The hollow rubber and plastic balls are easy to control.
When you started with a ball in one of the corners of the bottom edge of the cookbook , it was more likely to go it. This experiment will probably be conducted over and over again. We allowed a lot of variables for this experiment it was an experiment that contained simple goals mentioned above. In science experiments that follow, we will probably concentrate on the different ways of introducing force to a ball along with focusing on one or two balls instead of a basket full. We may also try to control which ball catching container the ball goes into.
The Quirky Mommas have some more fun ideas for science experiments with kids:

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  1. My kids love to play with ramps and create them for their cars. Thanks for linking to Science Sunday!

  2. I love science experiments that can be done w/ stuff you find around your house! Thanks for sharing your experiment and photos!