Ramps 2: Ramp Builder

AAAS ScienceNetLinks
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Experiment/Lab Activity , Lesson/Lesson Plan , Activity
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.



This is a multi-day lesson plan that has students design, build, and test their own ramps. Students are introduced to a variety of materials and explore putting them together. Students engage in an inquiry-based learning experience to reinforce math, science, and technology. They create plans for ramps by evaluating a variety of materials provided to them.

Intended Audience

Educational Level
  • Early Elementary
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

K-PS2-2 Analyze data to determine if a design solution works as intended to change the speed or direction of an object with a push or a pull.

Clarification Statement: Examples of problems requiring a solution could include having a marble or other object move a certain distance, follow a particular path, and knock down other objects. Examples of solutions could include tools such as a ramp to increase the speed of the object and a structure that would cause an object such as a marble or ball to turn.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include friction as a mechanism for change in speed.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Students should have prior experience with ramp building before they do this activity. The Ramp Builders data sheet is provided, but may not be appropriate for use with kindergarten. An older student or adult will need to assist students to complete the sheet.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
When the students are designing and drawing their ramps, have them label the drawing as a Prediction. This drawing should be used to compare the final ramp chosen for testing. They may need assistance labeling the drawing at the kindergarten level.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
When students have completed their trials, be sure to discuss how much force (push) they applied to the object from the top of the ramp, and how that amount of force affected the total distance traveled.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
The teacher should emphasize the importance of repeat trials. The teacher should guide students to realize that they would not be able to decide the best design for their ramp after testing it just once. Several trials should be performed before deciding the best design. Once they have completed the whole activity, leave the materials out for students to test various types of ramps they may not have experienced during the activity.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: Grade-appropriate elements of the Science and Engineering Practice(s), Disciplinary Core Idea(s), and Crosscutting Concept(s) work together to support students in three-dimensional learning to design solutions to problems.

  • Instructional Supports: This resource provides students with firsthand experiences to make sense of relevant problems to solve. It also provides opportunities for students to draw from their own experiences and make connections between their explanation of force and their own engineering solution. There are opportunities for students to express, clarify, justify, interpret, and represent their ideas and respond to peer and teacher feedback orally and/or in written form as appropriate to support student’s three-dimensional learning.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: There are numerous questions provided for the teacher to ask to check for student understanding. The teacher may want to keep anecdotal records of student responses. Students are asked to draw and label their designs and write about them. This could be done in a science journal or on separate paper.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: There is no technology required other than the teacher downloading the Ramp Builder data sheet.