Name of Activity  Ramp Cars: Wheel and Axle 

Author  Kelly Clark 
Keywords  ramp, cars, beams, axles, bushings, wheels, Simple Machines, Potential Energy, Kinetic Energy, friction 
Subject  Simple Machines 
Grade Level  K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 
Time  1 Hour Total 
Brief Description  Using LEGOs, students will build a car to travel the farthest distance off a ramp. 
Lesson Objectives:   To learn about wheels and axles.  To introduce potential and kinetic energy. 
Materials Needed:   LEGO Simple Machine kits or homemade kits with lots of beams, axles, bushings and wheels.  Ramp.  Recording sheet.  ‘Ramp Cars’ Worksheet. 
Preparation and Set Up:   Set up a testing ramp. – Mark starting point on ramp to start cars. – Mark the spot at the bottom of the ramp that students will measure distance traveled from.  Make one copy of the ‘Ramp Cars’ worksheet for each student.  Arrange students in pairs.
 Distribute materials. 
Necessary Background  This activity explores the concepts of kinetic and potential energy. A car moving down a slope converts potential energy into kinetic energy. Potential energy is the amount of stored energy the car has when it is sitting at the top of the ramp. As the car moves down the ramp it converts potential energy into kinetic energy – the energy of movement of the car. At the bottom of the ramp the car has converted all the potential energy to kinetic energy. The point just at the bottom of the ramp is the point at which the car has its maximum kinetic energy. The car will slow at the bottom of the ramp due to loss of energy to the floor through friction – the force between the car tires and the ground.
Vocabulary: 
Procedure 

Extensions or Modifications:  You can modify this activity to be applicable to older grades by having student graph distance v. time, taking the mass of their cars and predicting how far their car will travel using mathematics. 
Reference 1  http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/ramp1.doc 
Reference 2  http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/ramp2.pdf 
Reference 3  http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/ramp3.pdf 