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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?

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