Ramps & Pathways

Ramps and Pathways is STEM curriculum that involves inclined planes and movement of objects.

Children use cove molding of differing lengths and marbles of various sizes. The cove molding serves as a track for the marble.

Ramps and Pathways gives children endless possibilities to think and create. They build, test their ramp structures, make adjustments, and try again until they are successful. We have found that children are motivated to engage in this process because of the intriguing nature of the materials.

Children also use blocks of all kinds (wooden unit blocks, cardboard blocks, foam blocks) to build the base structure of the ramp.

Through Ramps and Pathways, we give experiences for children to succeed, and also to make mistakes, since we believe that children learn from mistakes.

Ramps and Pathways are appropriate and beneficial for all ages.

Programs in Action

Ramps and Pathways: Integrated STEM

Ramps and Pathways gives children endless possibilities to think and create. They build, test their ramp structures, make adjustments, and try again until they are successful. We have found that children are motivated to engage in this process because of the intriguing nature of the materials.


Ramps and Pathways: The Beginning

Physics in Early Childhood and Elementary Classrooms:  A Constructive Approach.  Presented by the Regents' Center for Early Developmental Education at the University of Northern Iowa.

© 2005 Iowa Regents' Center for Early Developmental Education


Analyzing and Predicting

During ramp construction this four-year-old builds a curved path and tries to line it with straight blocks. He includes barriers to cause the marble to change directions as well as keep it from rolling off the flat surface.

Although his theory is partially correct, he must continuously observe his structure and predict which parts will not work. He eventually creates an interesting and functional design. Providing ample time and experience with Ramps and Pathways activities fosters the ability to analyze technological design and predict outcomes.


Scaffolding Children's Thinking

A group of four-year-olds are working together on a long straight ramp. They are having trouble getting the marble to go all the way to the end of the pathway. The teacher is close by, observing what the children are doing. This enables her to determine their goal and offer support as needed.