The ramps have been out in our classroom for several weeks now and they are a big hit. We see different designs and ideas being tested out on a regular basis. This past week, three girls worked together to create and amazing ramp structure on their own during afternoon choice time. It is important to note that there wasn't any adult intervention, coaching or discussion with girls during this process, except to ask them about the design at the end of the process. And all the boys were occupied at the writing center or the math center while this building took place. The girls created this work entirely on their own. Go girls!!
It started with one girl building an airplane. Here are images of her very realistic airplane design.
Above is a side view. You can see that there are multiple ramps in the design. The longest ramp runs the whole length of the airplane and includes a multi-part tunnel. It ends at the tail of the ramp. What's ingenious here is that the tail serves as a stopping point, so the marble won't continue off the ramp. You'll also notice the side ramp has a stopping point as well. This ramp system is all self-contained. After the building process, the designer had to experiment with getting a ball down the ramp. She quickly realized that the large wooden balls wouldn't work down the center ramp and switched to a marble that was able to roll right under the tunnels.
I love this head-on view of the airplane. It shows the two side ramps and the overall symmetry of the design. It really looks like an airplane!
Finally, here's an overhead shot of the airplane design.
The little girl was soon joined by two other little girls in the block area. When I returned to the area a few minutes later, the girls had utilized the airplane as a central component for a new engineering feat - a playground. Below are pictures of the playground, which has an intricate series of ramps leading off of the main design.
Notice that paper towel rolls have been added to the design as well.
This side view more clearly shows the series of ramps upon ramps that the girls built. Notice that the end of each ramp includes a stopping device of some sort, typically a single block, but sometimes more than one block is used.
This picture shows the opposite side of the playground structure. At the end of the longest and steepest ramp, there are nine blocks lined up to stop the ball at the end. These girls aren't messing around. They want to make sure the ball stays on the ramp and remains part of the playground.
And who says girls don't have a natural knack for engineering!?!