Ramptastic: Calculating Speed Part II

By Stacey Burt on December 8, 2009
  • Grades: 6–8


 


Putting a twist on rate calculations is exciting when adding the fun of ramp construction into the mix. This week in math students are building ramps to make more speed calculations and explore how slope affects speed.


 


Putting a twist on rate calculations is exciting when adding the fun of ramp construction into the mix. This week in math students are building ramps to make more speed calculations and explore how slope affects speed.


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After an introduction to rate calculations (specifically speed in this case), I encouraged my students to consider variables that could alter the speed of their toy cars. They had the option of either increasing or decreasing speed using ramps. Materials were gathered from around the classroom and brought in from home. This means that no two ramps were the same. Luckily, my students all had access to pieces of 2 X 4’s that I had left from a project on catapults completed the prior spring semester. You may notice this in some of the pictures.

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Some interesting facts that my students brought up were, at what point should the distance traveled be calculated (top of the ramp vs. end of the ramp) and at what point should the time-keeper start the stop watch. Classes varied in their decisions and quite frankly, I believe that this served in making the lab more authentic for the students. We discussed how the angle of the ramps might affect the speed of the vehicles as well as if the mass of the toy cars would have an impact on the rate.

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All-in-all my students have loved this lab. It took about three days to implement and I feel that the hands-on experience has given much more in the means of learning than any textbook ever could. The suggested autobiography about Matt Hoffman, a BMX legend, may be interesting to your students. It is available through Scholastic, just follow this link:

http://bookwizard.scholastic.com/tbw/viewWorkDetail.do?workId=1309399&

 

Have a “ramptastic” rest of the week-

Stacey

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