Obstacle Course II

Try experiments with ramps, balls, and obstacles. 

Materials

  • balls and wheeled objects (toy cars, etc.) of various sizes and weights
  • ramp materials (cardboard tubes of different lengths—paper towel, toilet paper, wrapping paper, mailing tubes; cut some of the tubes horizontally to form open troughs. Flat pieces of cardboard, foam core, and/or wood also work well.)
  • objects to prop up ramps (books, blocks)
  • objects to serve as obstacles (cardboard tubes, toy cars, blocks, pencils, empty spice jars, plastic cups and bottles, etc.)
  • clipboard and pencil
  • camera or video camera

Key Science Concepts

  • When a rolling or sliding object hits an obstacle, it will stop or slow down and its direction may change.
  • When a stationary object is hit by a rolling or sliding object, the force may knock the object over or cause it to move depending on how fast the moving object is going and how heavy it is.

Vocabulary

Encourage children to use terms such as ramp, obstacle, roll, bounce, bump, swerve, heavier, lighter, steeper, and less steep, and science process words such as observe, predict, test, record, compare, same, different, and change. Emphasize obstacle: an object that gets in the way that you have to get around or over.  

Directions

  1. Investigate Steepness: Use only one ball and the same ramp, but vary the steepness of the ramp. Have children figure out how steep they need to make the ramp to knock down a particular block with a particular ball.
  2. Investigate Different Obstacles: Use the same ball and ramp and incline, but use different objects as obstacles. Have children test and find out: What happens when this ball runs into…a toy car; a row of large marbles; another ball; a sweater or stuffed animal; a paper towel tube with a ball balanced on top; etc.?
  3. Use your clipboard to take notes about children’s discoveries.

Reflect and Share

Encourage students to leave their favorite obstacle course set up for a class tour. At each obstacle course, invite students to talk about their creation and demonstrate with a ball. Encourage the other children to ask questions. Take photos of the obstacle courses or have children draw pictures of them. Have them dictate captions to the pictures.