Ramp it Up
Primary Market
Education, Secondary Ed
Character Focus
Cooperation, Teamwork
Items Needed
2 Toobeez sets, 1 meter stick or measuring tape, 1 roll of butcher paper, 1 roll of masking tape, 1 Measurement Recording Sheet per team, 1 pen/pencil per team
The Activity Time
50 - 60 minutes


  • Help students understand the importance of math and measurements in scientific experiments
  • Aid students in understanding the difference between potential and kinetic energy
  • Demonstrate the importance of recording and comparing measurements
  • Learn to make a prediction
  • Work cooperatively with others to understand mathematical concepts in a teambuilding style
Character Focus
The Challenge

Students will construct ramps of different heights and measure the distance traveled from the top of the ramps by Toobeez spheres to understand potential and kinetic energy.


Setup Time: 20 – 25 minutes


  • 2 Toobeez sets
  • 1 meter stick or measuring tape
  • 1 roll of butcher paper
  • 1 roll of masking tape
  • 1 Measurement Recording Sheet per team (See the below pic)
  • 1 pen/pencil per team
Activity Plan

Time: 50 – 60 minutes

Instruction: Whole class and small groups

Space: Lots

Measurement Recording Sheet



Average distance rolled:_______________

Activity Setup

1. Divide the class into three teams. Each team should build a rectangular frame consisting of:

  • Two 36″Toobeez tubes
  • Two 16″Toobeez tubes

2. Each team should build a ramp of equal length but varying heights using the rectangular frames with different lengths of Toobeez as support pieces.

  • Team One: Use two 24″Toobeez tubes for the ramp’s height and one16″Toobeez tube as a bottom cross piece for support.
  • Team Two: Use two 11″Toobeez tubes for the ramp’s height.
  • Team Three: Use two 11″Toobeez tubes forthe ramp’s height, but position them in the spheres in away that makes the ramp lower than Team Two’s ramp.
The models are examples of the teams' ramps. From left to right, Team 3, Team 2 and Team  I are pictured.

The models are examples of the teams’ ramps. From left to right, Team 3, Team 2 and Team I are pictured.

Teacher Note: Tubes for the varying heights will not always be perfectly perpendicular to the floor.

3. Have each team securely attach butcher paper to the top cross piece of each ramp with masking tape and run the paper down the length of the ramp to the other cross piece.

4. Attach the bottom of the butcher paper securely to the floor, not to the bottom cross piece. Make sure the butcher paper is tight and forms a smooth surface from the top to the floor.

Helpful Hints

  • Be sure to review these tips prior to beginning the activity, and if necessary, share reminders with the group during the activity.
  • Make sure the butcher paper remains tight on the ramp
  • Be sure to review the principles of potential  and kinetic energy with the group to familiarize them with the terms
  • Have students practice measuring with a meter stick or tape measure

Activity Instructions

1. Provide each team with one copy of the Measurement Recording Sheet or have them create one of their own.

2. Read aloud the following Activity Challenge Box to the group.

Challenge: Students will construct ramps of different heights and measure the distance traveled from the top of the ramps by Toobeez spheres to understand potential and kinetic energy.

3. Each team should have one member hold a Toobeez sphere at the top of their ramp and release it so that it rolls down the center of the ramp.ramp-it-up34. Using the meter stick or measuring tape, have another team member measure the distance the sphere rolled. A third team member should record the result on their Measurement Recording Sheet.ramp-it-up45. Once each team has completed four roll sand recorded  their results, have them determine the average distance rolled by the spheres on each ramp.
6. Tape the Measurement Recording Sheet from each ramp to the top of the corresponding ramp so all students can see the average from each ramp.

7. After the activity, circle up the group and ask them the following question:”How did the height of the ramp affect the amount of potential energy in each sphere?”

8. Finally, move to the “Activity Discussion and Processing” section of the activity.


  • Have each team check the math on the other teams’ Measurement Recording Sheets
  • Have each student write a paragraph explaining the activity, how it was conducted, and what was learned

Activity Discussion and Processing

To close the lesson, end with a group discussion about what was learned during the activity. Circle up the group and work through the following questions. If possible, record the group’s responses on flip chart paper so all comments are displayed.

  • How did changes in ramp height affect the distance rolled?
  • What type of energy did the sphere have at the top of the ramp?
  • What type of energy did the sphere have while rolling down the ramp?
  • Why where multiple measurements made for each ramp?

Activity Variations

1. Reproducing results.

Provide each team with a new Measurement Recording Sheet and assign each team a different ramp and conduct  the activity again. Discuss the importance of reproducing results in scientific experiments.

2. Extension/Follow up.

Have students experiment with constructing ramps with other lengths and heights. Instruct them to speculate what the results might be before conducting the experiments.

Ramp It Up
Albert J. Reyes, MA and B. Michael McCarver, JD are the principals of Lingua Medica LLC, a partnership of writers, researchers and analysts specializing in science, mathematics and medical education. The goal of Lingua Medica is to create successful educational materials by fusing quality writing with effective presentation formats.
All Activities of Albert J. and B. Michael

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