Fun with science: inclined planes

Since today was another gorgeous Indian Summer day, we did our Fun With Science day outside. The topic was inclined planes, aka ramps and slides. After reading the sections of his book introducing simple machines and inclined planes, my son did the top part of a worksheet I made up. Then I took him and his little sister to 2 parks to measure slides. It was a lot of fun for us all. One child held the measure tape at the top of the slide while the other slid down holding the other end. They took turns as to who slid down and who stayed at the top. We had to adjust the tape to measure the middle of the slide rather than the center pole on the twisty slides. Richard wrote down the results and I helped him measure the heights. We also drew a small diagram of the slides beside each number since only 2 were straight. Once we got home we did the math to figure the mechanical advantage of each slide.

We’re all really enjoying the God’s Design science series. Rather than being grade level specific, I can use it with both kids. I do the basics with Karen and more in-depth for Richard all from the same book and activities. They are well written with a brief, simple introduction perfect for the little one, and more detail in the lesson for older students. It satisfies her wanting to be included in the science fun with her brother without boring him with easy stuff he already knows. And I only have to teach one science lesson.

Here’s the text of the worksheet I made up:

Fun With Science: Inclined Planes

Label the length and height of the inclined plane [drawing of elongated right angle triangle]

Understanding Inclined Planes:

  1. Another word for incline plane is a ____________________.
  2. Why do people use inclined planes? ____________________________________ __________________________________________________________________
  3. What is mechanical advantage? ________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________
  4. How do you “pay” for mechanical advantage? ____________________________ __________________________________________________________________

Exploring Inclined Planes: Length ÷ Height = Mechanical Advantage

A fun inclined plane found at most playgrounds is a ___________________________.

Measure the slides. Hypothesize which has the highest mechanical advantage: ______

  1. Length _____________ ÷ Height ______________ = ___________________
  2. Length _____________ ÷ Height ______________ = ___________________
  3. Length _____________ ÷ Height ______________ = ___________________
  4. Length _____________ ÷ Height ______________ = ___________________
  5. Length _____________ ÷ Height ______________ = ___________________

Do the math. Was your hypothesis correct? ____________


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