Energy systems


1. How Can You Get It to Move?


Students try to get things to move, first without a ramp, then with a piece of cardboard that can be used as a ramp.


  • Variety of small objects that cannot roll: books, wooden or plastic blocks, small boxes, bags, pieces of paper or cardboard, etc.
  • Cardboard sheets (for making ramps)


  1. How can you get it to move?
    (Part #1) Give students a variety of objects. Ask the students to try different ways of moving them. Note: some teachers prefer to let students experiment with the cardboard alone and don’t introduce other materials (as in the video above).

  2. Class Meeting:
    Gather the class to discuss the ways they came up with. They have probably thought of pushing and pulling, possibly blowing, pushing with a stick, etc. Chart with the students how they were able to get the objects to move. (Movement can be sorted into two categories, pushing and pulling.

  3. How can you get it to move?
    (Part #2) Provide the large sheets of cardboard, but do not suggest how they might be used (as ramps) – some students will probably come up with this idea on their own. Students may also use the cardboard in a see saw motion (essentially creating two ramps).

  4. Class meeting:
    Gather the class to discuss the ways they came up with. If anyone has thought of using the cardboard sheet as a ramp, ask students:

    • How is this different from moving it by pushing or pulling directly?
      • If nobody has come up with this idea, ask:
        How can you get it to move “by itself” – while you are not touching it?

  5. Science Notebook:
    Draw and write about what you did to make something move. List the materials you used.

  6. Outcomes

    • Students explore methods of initiating motion of an object, and recognize that something “extra” is needed to make it go.
    • The “extra” needed to make something move could come from a person, in the form of a push or pull. It could also be made to move by putting it in a place where it “wants” to move, such as at the top of a ramp or slide.


Rolling Downhill.doc