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L EA COPYRIGHTED R MATERIAL 2.3 RN I N G C E NT E ACT I VI TY THE GREAT INCLINE RACE PhySicS Materials wooden board, 12 inches by 18 inches narrow strip(s) of wood, to be cut into sections as described below (72 inches of wood are needed) wood glue 1 piece of self-adhesive felt, quilted fabric, and mesh shelf liner, each approximately 2 inches by 15 inches ruler 4 identical toy cars Center Description young children love to race cars. This center incorpo- rates four inclines, each with a different surface, and a simple starting gate to ensure that the cars all begin the race at the same time. Children can observe how fast the cars move along the four paths and measure the distance each car travels. The base of the racetrack is a lightweight piece of wood, 12 inches wide and about 18 inches long. Lines are drawn to divide the wood into four lengthwise sections, each 2½ inches wide, to form the racing lanes. Narrow strips of wood are then glued along these lines in the following configuration: 2½-inch- long strips at the top of each line, followed by a gap wide enough to fit the edge of a ruler, and finally strips of wood that extend to the bottom of the base. Different surfaces are created for each racing lane by “paving” three lanes of the track with the following materials: self-adhesive felt, quilted fabric, and mesh shelf liner. The fourth track remains uncovered wood. A ruler is inserted horizontally through the gaps in the wood strips to create the starting gate, and that end of the board is raised about 4 inches by propping it with blocks or a box. Children can then race four identical cars down the track and compare how fast and how far cars on the various tracks travel. At first, children can observe the relative posi- 22 c ha P TE R 2 tions of the cars to determine which has moved the farthest. After several days, grid lines can be taped at 5-inch intervals along the floor. Children can count how many lines each car crosses. For kindergarten children, teachers may wish to tape a yardstick or a tape measure to the floor to connect the activity to standard measuring tools. Science Content This activity encourages careful observation and inquiry as children try to determine which car reaches the bottom of the track first and why. Children will notice that the car on the wood track consistently reaches the bottom first, followed by the car on the felt. The wheels of the car on the soft, quilted track deform the fabric as they press into it, which absorbs COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL