Support for PBS Parents provided by:

  • Cat in the Hat
  • Curious George
  • Daniel Tiger
  • Dinosaur Train
  • Odd Squad
  • Peg + Cat
  • Sid the Science Kid
  • Super Why!
  • Wild Kratts
  • Martha Speaks
  • WordGirl
  • Thomas & Friends
  • Arthur
  • Sesame Street
  • The Electric Company
  • Cyberchase
  • Between the Lions
  • Mama Mirabelle
  • Caillou
  • Chuck Vanderchuck
  • Oh Noah
  • Fetch!
  • Fizzy's Lunch Lab
  • Maya & Miguel
  • Mister Rogers
  • Postcards from Buster
  • Clifford
  • SciGirls
  • Wilson & Ditch
  • WordWorld
  • DragonFly TV
  • ZOOM
Sesame Street


Experiment with different ramp heights to see how they affect the distance toy cars travel.


  • Cardboard or poster board
  • Paper
  • Crayons or markers
  • Books or blocks
  • Toy car
  • Ruler or stick


  1. Find a large, flat surface to conduct your experiment.
  2. Take a piece of poster board or cardboard from a large box and prop up one end on a thick book or block to create a ramp.
  3. Put the toy car at the top of the ramp and hold it there.
  4. Draw a line on the ramp about half an inch in front of the car. This will be your starting line for the experiment so that you’re always conducting a fair test.
  5. Hold the ruler (or stick) across the ramp on the starting line and let go of the car so that it sits at the top of the ramp touching the ruler.
  6. At the count of three, remove the ruler to release the car and watch it go down the ramp and across the ground.
  7. When the car comes to a complete halt, place a strip of paper where it stopped.
  8. Add more books or blocks to make your ramp steeper and conduct the experiment 3-5 times, each time placing a strip of paper to keep track of how far the car traveled. What do you notice happens to the distance the car travels when you increase the incline of the ramp?

Talk About It

Talk to your child about how a ramp is a simple machine with a sloping surface that helps something go from high to low, or low to high. Look around your neighborhood to see if you can spot any ramps and guess how they are used. Do you see any wheelchair ramps outside of doors or buildings? Do you see any trucks that use ramps to help get items on or off? Do you see any slides?

Take It Further

There are other factors that can affect the distance that a toy car travels down a ramp, such as the weight of the car or the size of its wheels. Conduct the same experiment, but this time, keep the height of the ramp the same and measure the distance traveled by different cars. Compare the features of the cars before the experiment and predict which car will travel the shortest distance and which will travel the farthest. After finishing the experiment, look at the cars again. What do you notice about the cars that traveled the farthest? What do you notice about the cars that traveled the shortest distance?

Produced by: Funding is provided by:
Sesame Workshop logo Sponsor Logos Image Map
© 2009 Sesame Workshop. "Sesame Street" and its logo are trademarks of Sesame Workshop. All rights reserved. The contents of this website were developed under a grant, #PRU295A050003, from the Department of Education. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.
Beaches logo PNC Grow Up Great logo United HealthCare logo Earths Best Organic logo Party City logo CPB logo Dept. of Education logo

What's this?

PBS Parents Picks

  1. Thai Shrimp Pizza image

    Thai Shrimp Pizza

    Tonight, shake things up with this easy recipe for Thai Shrimp Pizza. It's savory, sweet and oh-so-good!

  2. Homemade Lacing Cards  image

    Homemade Lacing Cards

    These lacing cards help kids perfect their pincer grip which they'll need to grasp a pencil later on.

  3. From Our Sponsor image

    From Our Sponsor

    Learn more about Mighties™ kiwi, the easy-to-eat, nutrient-rich healthy snack.

PBS Parents Newsletter

Find activities, parenting tips, games from your child's favorite PBS KIDS programs and more.