Rolling Things

In the Rolling Things Challenge, students explore how changing the ramp height and vehicle weight affect the momentum of toy cars. Ramp height affects the velocity of the car when it strikes the crash box-the greater the height of the ramp, the greater the velocity of the car when it reaches the bottom of the ramp. Concepts covered in this unit include gravity, potential and kinetic energy, friction, momentum, mass, velocity and acceleration.

The A World In Motion Primary Challenges consist of four different activities. Each of these challenges can be taught over a one to two week period. The challenges give young students many opportunities to explore a toy they have constructed and to develop an understanding of what it means to conduct a fair test.

A unique feature of this program is the use of portions of a problem-solving process employed by engineers working in teams. The "Engineering Design Experience" for Primary students consists of: Set Goals, Build Knowledge, Design, Build and Test and Present.

SAE International offers three levels of kits: Basic, Complete Classroom and Deluxe Classroom for a class size of 24 students.

Lesson Plan Overview


Lesson 1 - Playing with Cars and Ramps
Students begin to explore the cars and ramps. They are given a variety of toy cars and asked to observe differences between the cars and how they perform. Student pairs then investigate the cars and ramps in a non-structured way. Students make informal observations about why different cars might perform differently.


Lesson 2 - Crash and Bash
Students are introduced to a "crash box" that they can crash their cars into. Student pairs then informally investigate what happens when cars crash into the box. Students make observations about why different cars might perform differently.


Lesson 3 - Getting to Know the Cars and Ramps
Students talk and think about the cars and ramps more deeply. In pairs, students talk about their prior experiences, drawing on their prior knowledge. Students practice predicting and explaining their reasoning. Using their predictions, they create a class histogram.


Lesson 4 - Ramp Height
In this activity, students begin to work in a more structured way with the cars and ramps. Students experiment with how ramp height affects how far cars move the crash box. Pairs of students choose one car to work with and explore how far the car moves the crash box when it is rolled down different ramp inclines. They record their data on ramp height and how far the crash box moves in a table and begin to draw conclusions (or reinforce prior knowledge)about the effect that ramp height has on how far the crash box is displaced. They also record their observations through drawing.


Lesson 5 - Car Weight
Students experiment and record how far a car moves a crash box as weight is added as cargo. Students begin to draw conclusions (or reinforce prior knowledge) about the effect that weight has on the strength of a crash. They also record their observations through drawing.


Lesson 6 - Outfoxing the Big Bad Wolf
Students hear the story The Three Little Pigs' Sledding Adventure and begin to relate it to the activities they've been doing.


Lesson 7 - Make It Happen
Students continue experimenting with the cars and ramps. They create the conditions-by changing ramp height and car weight-that will allow their car to (1) be stopped by the big bad wolf and (2) knock over the big bad wolf.

Kit Materials

Item Quantity
Wooden Trucks 1
Wooden Convertibles 1
Wooden Sedans 1
Wooden Cars with Pegs 1
Ramp and Ramp Support 1
Tracks (1 track = 8 ft.) 1
Velcro (1 pack = 10 dots) 1
Square Stickers (Sheets) 6
Round Stickers (Sheets) 24
Sticky Flags 1
Sticky Notes - Pads 1
Bags of Washers (15 in a bag) 1
Crash Boxes 1
Toy Wolf 1
Student Reader 1
Teacher Manual on CD 1
Measuring Tape 1



Sample Lesson Plan

Tradebooks to Introduce STEM