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Can you make a game where a ball flies in the air? 


  • balls or large marbles
  • ramp material of children’s choice
    • flat pieces of cardboard, foam core, and/or wood
    • cardboard tubes of different lengths—paper towel, toilet paper, wrapping paper, mailing tubes; cut some of the tubes horizontally to form open troughs
    • foam pipe insulation is ideal (1-inch diameter works well for large marbles), which can be found in hardware stores; these can be cut in half to make open troughs
    • wide, flexible hoses from shop vacs or sump pumps (look for these in the plumbing section of hardware stores)
    • PVC pipe, pieces of gutter, wooden trim (the ones with a trough in the middle keep balls nicely in the track!)
  • scissors
  • masking tape
  • various props: boxes, books, chairs, buckets, cups
  • paper cups or plastic bowls
  • camera or video camera

Key Science Concepts

  • A rolling object will move faster down a steeper incline and slower down a less steep incline.


Encourage children to use terms such as roll, bounce, bump, steeper, less steep, steady, wobbly, and flexible, and science process words such as observe, predict, test, record, compare, same, different, problem, solve, solution, and change.


Tell children that today they will be challenged to build a ramp that sends a ball up into the air the way a ski jump or a skateboard jump would. The ball then needs to land in a bowl or cup.

  1. Tell them that they can choose any ball or ramp materials they want.
  2. Have them test their marble on the track and redesign the track if necessary.
  3. Once children have created a jump, challenge them to create one that either makes the ball go higher or farther.

Reflect and Share

Have children demonstrate their jump. Ask them if they encountered any problems.  If so, how did they solve them? What did they do to make it so their marble or ball flew into the air? How did they make the ball go even higher? How about farther? Take photos or videos and encourage children to draw and write about their constructions.

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