The children have been very interested in the movement of cars as they travel down ramps in the classroom. We have found different ways to manipulate the ramps so they are at different heights and have different textures on the actual ramp. We began to change the surface at the bottom of the ramp. We wanted to see if the children made the connection between the bottom surface and the distance the cars traveled – looking to see how friction impacted the distance of the cars.
We used two ramps and changed the surfaces under each ramp. Under the first ramp, we added a shiny, smooth mirror. Under the second ramp, we added several thick carpet squares. We knew the surfaces would elicit different responses from the cars as they reached the bottom so we were curious to see if the children noticed.
The children noticed immediately. They could not right away verbalize what they saw but pointed, laughed, and smiled as their cars traveled down the ramp with the smooth mirror at the bottom. Later in the week, the children were using words like “fast” and “go” to describe their cars. Responses from the ramp with the carpet included looks of confusion, and children pushing their cars down with more force to see if they could get their cars to go further. It was interesting to see that some of the children connected force to distance right away while others took a little longer to figure out effective strategies.
We will be continuing this with the children, manipulating the ramps with different bottom surfaces again. We want the children to continue drawing comparisons and contrasting the textures and how they relate to the distance the cars travel.