Infant Three recently spent some time learning about inclined planes. Oftentimes, children will take toys on the climber to drop them down the slide. Because they are not all very coordinated as of yet, we like them to keep toys off of the climber. Seeking to encourage this exploration, however, gave us the idea of making a ramp that they could access from the floor so they could learn the same lessons they might learn by using the slide to roll balls and toys.

We chose four objects with a goal of seeing how far each would go; balls, baby dolls, cars and a scarf. The balls were the clear winner, rolling all the way to the wall! Cars were in second place, each went a different distance but most were half-way or two-thirds of the way to the wall. The baby dolls all were able to make it down our inclined plane, landing right at the bottom of the ramp. Lastly, the scarf needed some help! We put the scarf on the ramp several times but it would only move a few inches. We then showed the children that we could make it fall to the bottom by increasing the degree of the plane. By lifting our inclined plane from the original 30 degree angle (approximate) to around 50 degrees, the scarf slid down easily to rest near the baby dolls!

Teaching mathematical concepts through play is key to STEAM learning (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math). At UCDC, our philosophy reflects this idea that, by designing activities as well as open-ended play with feedback and reflection from educators, these concepts help teach children about their world—yes, even the laws of physics and geometry! The children had a great time in the activity and learned a lot as well!