Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Teaching Slope By Building A Linear Ramp and Racing Matchbox Cars




The purpose of this activity is to teach the slope formula by building a ramp for hot wheels/ matchbox cars. Students will estimate the slopes, calculate the slopes as well as test them with their car.

What You Will Need:
* 3-4 Matchbox cars
* 4 Pieces of Styrofoam Board
* 4 Pieces of Construction Paper
* 4 Printable x-y coordinate graphs with a scale of 1-5 for both x and y
* 8 Pencils or Straws
* Material to make the ramp (construction paper, cardboard, etc)
* Glue or Two-sided Tape

Building The Ramps:

It is often times hard to explain how to build things but I decided to use basic materials found in any classroom to make the process easier. If you plan on using this activity every year you may want to look in to building a much more sturdier version of the ramp.

Step 1: Tape the printed x-y coordinate graph to a piece of construction paper (The graph should take up the whole construction paper. You could also draw in the coordinate on the construction paper either vertical or landscape)

Step 2: Tape/Staple/Glue the construction paper from step 1 to the Styrofoam board
Step 3: Make a linear ramp using some types of flat surface durable enough for matchbox cars to slide down. This ramp could be made by cutting in half the cardboard inside of wrapping paper, using folded paper, or wood. It doesn't matter what material you use as long as it is sturdy.

Step 4: Optional: Make siding on your ramp so that the cars slide down without falling off the side
Step 5: Choose where you would like place your coordinate points used to calculate the slope. For example, points (0,5) and points (3,1) for a slope of -4/3

Step 6: Using two sharpened pencils or double sided tape stick each pencil through the construction paper into the Styrofoam (so that both pencils are sturdy) at the coordinate points you desire or use two-sided tape to hold the ramp.

Step 7: glue/tape the ramp onto two pencils
Step 8: Try rolling a matchbox car down the ramp to see if it is sturdy.
Step 9: Make 2-4 different ramps with various inclines and have your students calculate the slope of each
Step 10: Ask each student to guess which slope will yield the fastest speed?
Step 11: Ask each student to guess the various speeds
Step 12: Using a stop watch, have your students calculate the speed in seconds of each ramp.   

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