Exploring Ramps

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This guide features three related ramp explorations in which learners investigate the following science concepts: when placed on a ramp, some objects roll, others slide, and others stay put; the shape of an object and its placement on a ramp affect how the object moves; and, the steepness of a ramp affects how far and fast an object will roll. Exploring Ramps is one unit in the Peep Event Kit, which also offers explorations of shadows and structures, respectively. The guide provides an agenda for a 1-hour science event, a customizable flyer and family handouts (English and Spanish). Learners can view a related Peep and the Big Wide World video story before or after the activity.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 4 - 6

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan

English, Spanish

Materials List (per group of students)

  • ramps (each made from a piece of cardboard, about 18" long, propped on a box or on blocks)
  • materials that will roll, slide, or stay put on a ramp (e.g., toy car, ball, glue stick, marker, small block, toilet paper tube, piece of paper, etc.)
  • pieces of cardboard (about 18" long)
  • building blocks (or small boxes) to support the cardboard ramps
  • toy cars
  • cardboard tubes from paper towels, wrapping paper, and toilet paper
  • masking or duct tape
  • small balls that can roll through the tubes
  • paper cups (optional)


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Transportation Engineering
    • Technology
      • Transportation
      • Construction
  • Mathematics
    • Geometry
      • Plane Geometry
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
      • Momentum and Velocity
      • Acceleration
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Mass and Weight
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • About Inquiry
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Eductional Outreach Department, WGBH Educational Foundation

Source Collection

  • PEEP and the Big Wide World


  • All rights reserved, WGBH Educational Foundation, 2007

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, 0104700