Red Flags
When rolling different items down ramps, be aware of choking hazards with young children.

Questions to Ask
What direction do the drops go? Why do you think so? Can you make the drop roll down faster or slower? How could you do that?
How could you make the water flow uphill?

Science Connection
Inclined planes or ramps are sloping surfaces. When things move, it is because of a force. Forces are pushes and pulls that make things move. With ramps, the force is gravity.




To explore the characteristics of one of the simple machines—the inclined plane

What You Need

  • Plastic cups or clean yogurt containers
  • Water
  • Food coloring or paint
  • Drinking straw or eyedropper
  • Cookie sheet or other box-type plastic container
  • White paper
  • Scissors

    What to Do
    Pour water in the cups and have the children color it. Ask them to cover only the bottom of the pan or container with the paper. Place one end of the pan on a stack of books to create a ramp. Then using a straw or eyedropper, place drops of colored water on the top of the paper. What happens?

    Forces: The pushes and pulls that make things move.

    Inclined plane: A flat surface that has a high end and a low end

    Ramp: The common name for an inclined plane

    Try This
    : Cover the cookie sheet with flour. Then drop some colored water onto this surface. What happens? How does this exploration compare to the one on the paper-covered cookie sheet? What happens to the drop of water? Why?

    You might want to continue to vary the surface of the cookie sheet by placing sandpaper or tissue paper on it. How do these materials affect the travel of the droplets of water?

    What other household materials could you use?

    Using paper tubes from toilet paper or paper towels and tape, create your own ramps. What do you think will happen if you place a ball inside your ramp? What items do the children want to put inside. What happens?

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