Build Trackways

Explore sending small balls down long trackways made of tubes and flat ramps.

Materials

  • flat ramps (cardboard, foam core, wood)
  • tubes of different lengths and diameters (packing tubes, paper towel tubes, etc.)—some tubes can be left whole and others cut horizontally to make open troughs
  • small balls or large marbles that will roll along the tubes
  • tape
  • camera or video camera

Key Science Concepts

  • A rolling object will move faster down a steeper incline and slower down a less steep incline.
  • When a rolling or sliding object hits an obstacle, it will stop or slow down and its direction may change.

Vocabulary

Encourage children to use terms such as track, shape, incline, slant, steep, flat, curve, faster, and slower as well as science process words such as observe, compare, same, different, change, and test.

Directions

  1. Have children build a long track for a small ball or large marble, using materials of their choice. Challenge children to change the shape and incline of the track so that a ball travels the whole length. 
  2. Encourage children to share their discoveries, talk about their challenges, and describe how they solved their problems. How did they change the shape of their track to make the ball travel the whole distance?

Reflect and Share

Help children to record their observations, ideas, and questions. Take photos or videos and encourage children to draw and write about their constructions.

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