Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Ramps: Getting Curvy!

We have loved playing with ramps and exploring different ways you can affect them while developing the Ramps BLAST.  Using some of the supplies from the BLAST and from our home we played around with putting curves at the end of ramps.

We started by looking at what happens when we send the marble down our ramp (half a pool noodle):

Then I gave her a piece of PVC tubing cut in half and asked Bug to connect them together.  Lining them up for the marble to travel down was a fun exercise.  It helped when I drew a circle as a target for her to try and roll the marble through.

I then moved the box slightly so that the purple ramp was no longer pointing at the target and asked her to try and get the marble in again.  She was able to figure out how to get the ramp to turn slightly to get the marble to the goal - we were now using the pink goal.

Next I moved the box and purple ramp even more so they were almost perpendicular to each other.  This proved to be a little frustrating!

So we picked up the tubing and explored how it felt - it was pretty wiggly!  We could bend it.

So we tried again - I helped a bit with lining it up at the bottom of the purple ramp - but Bug was very concerned.  The red ramp section was lying on its side.  Surely that would not work!

What a surprise when it did work! The marble did not fall out!  It even went over our goal!!!  Whoo hoo!

By now we were pretty hot (as it can get in the South!) and headed inside.   The next day we tried some more curvy ramps - but this time we stayed inside.

Now that we knew that the red tube could curve we wanted to explore how a curved ramp vs a straight ramp would affect how far a marble travelled.   So we setup our two ramps up next to each other (we used painters tape to hold the tubing up).  We tried to race the marbles but had trouble with letting them go at the same time so we just looked at how far they travelled.  Our curved ramp went further!

We did this in front of our whiteboard so that we could take a moment and trace the two ramps onto the board to discuss the differences in shapes.  

Then we thought it might be fun to put curves at the bottom of our ramp - but this time make them go up and down.   The short purple ramp did not make the marble go fast enough to go over the bumps so we taped the other section to it.  We had some trouble with the long ramp being unstable so we had to reinforce it along the bottom with books and other items that we could find.  Our longer ramp worked and the marble raced over all the bumps!

This activity was a great way to experiment with curves in conjunction with ramps.  How we can make a curved ramp, or use a curve to direct an object coming off a ramp or use curves to make bumps in the track.  We hope you will have fun playing with curves too!



  • marble
  • pool noodle
  • painters tape (to help hold the PVC tubing in position)
  • 1 inch PVC tubing


1.  Cut a pool noodle in half for a stiff ramp.
2.  Cut PVC tubing in half for flexible or curving ramp.
3.  Using the pool noodle as your main ramp, line up the PVC tubing in different ways to make curves.
4.  Explore and play.


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