Roller Ball Race

Roller Ball Race lesson plan

Test force, motion, and friction. Build an adjustable roller ball race track with a cardboard box.

  • 1.

    What is friction? Think of everyday experiences involving force, motion, and friction. Talk about how friction acts upon moving objects to slow them.

  • 2.

    In small groups, design roller ball race tracks from recycled cardboard boxes and construction paper. One way is to turn a box on its side and reassemble it so one side bends down as a ramp. <B>Ask an adult to help</B> if you need to cut the box with Crayola® Scissors.

  • 3.

    Stabilize the box with masking tape. Cut box top flaps into ramp supports. Create different angles.

  • 4.

    Cut paper to cover box surfaces. Attach with Crayola School Glue. Air dry.

  • 5.

    Mark ramps with lanes and label ramp support levels with Crayola Washable Markers.

  • 6.

    Gather balls of different sizes, shapes, and surface textures. Mold your own balls with Crayola Model Magic. To vary the weight and texture, add aquarium gravel. Air dry overnight.

  • 7.

    Cut different surfaces (sandpaper, aluminum foil, fabric) to attach to ramps to vary the friction.

  • 8.

    Experiment! Predict rolling speeds of various combinations of balls, ramp levels, and friction surfaces. Create data grids with markers. Use a stopwatch to time your experiments. Record relative or actual ball speeds. Color code data. What did you find?


  • Students use problem-solving skills and creativity to build a roller ball race track with adjustable ramp levels and changeable friction surfaces.
  • Students hypothesize how fast or slow balls will roll down ramps, varying the shape and size of balls, slope of ramps, and friction of ramp surfaces.
  • Students use the scientific method to experiment, record data from roller ball races, and analyze their findings.


  • Evaluate data and draw conclusions about force, motion, and friction. Evaluate roller ball race tracks to determine what improvements could be made to get better results. Determine future research topics associated with this experiment.
  • Try rolling objects such as marbles, cotton balls, or small stones. Compare the effects of different weights and shapes.