Journey to the Earth’s Core





Name of Activity

Journey to the Earth’s Core


Kristen Burns and Sarah Halpert


sturdy car, rock, travel, ramp, layers, earth, crust, mantle, core, axles, bushings, car, density, plate tectonics, mass, friction


Simple Machines

Grade Level

4, 5, 6


1 Hour Total

Brief Description

The kid’s needed to design a sturdy car that will hold a rock (small pebble). The car will then

travel down a ramp that is labeled with the layers of the earth. The upper half of the ramp

was the crust and the lower half of the ramp was the mantle. The floor directly after the ramp

was labeled the outer core and following the outer core was the inner core section. The kids

had to adjust the axles and bushings on the car to allow it to travel farther. Once the cars were

finished we tested them on the ramp to see how far into the “earth” they went.

Lesson Objectives:

Review density and how to measure the mass of an object

Build a sturdy car and tweak it to allow it to travel the furthest down the ramp

Learn the layers of the earth

Materials Needed:

Simple Machine Kit

Materials for a ramp

Paper to cover the ramp that depicts the layers of the earth

Small rocks


Preparation and Set Up:

Get a large piece of paper and cut it down to fit the ramp while allowing some extra to account

for the outer and inner core section. Design the paper with fun facts about each layer

(temperature, thickness, etc.).

Necessary Background



Plate Tectonics


Axle and Bushing



1. Explain density and the theory of plate tectonics. Also, review how to measure the mass of an object. 2. Have them start building the cars. Make sure that the cars have a spot to hold the rock and that they are sturdy. Explain how to adjust the bushings to account for less friction. 3. Take the mass of the rock. 4. Test the cars on the ramp and see how far into the “earth” they were able to travel. 5. Fill out the worksheet.


If a group finishes early ask them if they can make the car go further.

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