less force than lifting them because the force is dis-
tributed over a greater distance. The speed at which
an object moves down an incline is related to the
slope, or steepness, of the incline.
Position, direction, and angle are important geomet-
ric concepts that children encounter in this activity.
Teachers should model positioning terms (top,
middle, side, bottom, above, below, and next to) as
children experiment with the inclines. In this way,
children learn to pair placement patterns with the
appropriate vocabulary. Directional terms, which
describe movement patterns, include up, down,
across, opposite, left to right, and right to left, although
children are not expected to master the latter two
in preschool. Finally, teachers can use the inclines to
illustrate angles by comparing the slanted line formed
by the incline with the horizontal line formed by the
bottom of the flannel board frame.
Inclined planes are an important component of
engineering, particularly in designing and building
roads. Photographs of roadways, including over-
passes and exit ramps, can be added to the STEM
center to help children notice and make connections
to inclines they experience in their daily lives.
Comments and Questions
to Support Inquiry
• Let’s put some ramps on this flannel board and see
if the balls roll down them.
• Oops! your ball missed the bottom ramp. Where
can you put the lower incline so that the ball hits it?
• Look, your incline doesn’t go straight across like
the bottom of the flannel board. It moves down-
ward at an angle.
Connections to Technology
The inclined plane is itself an example of technology,
since it is one of the six classical simple machines.
Teachers may want to take digital photographs of
children’s experiments with the ramps. These pho-
tographs can be shared with the class in a slide show
or PowerPoint display, and children can recollect and
share the results of their experiments.
ST E M lE aR n I ng c E n T E R S