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Simple Machines
Lab 1 - Inclined Plane

Teacher Portal


Launch the Engage Section

ACTS is what the teacher will do and ASKS is how the teacher will facilitate.

  1. Introduce the concept of an inclined plane by asking students to make a personal connection using their experiences, such as going down a slide.
  2. Ask students to use their own words to explain why we slide down a slide, but not when we sit on a flat surface like a bench.
  3. Have a pre-built Incline Plane to use for a demo to introduce the build. Show the Blue Wheel rolling down the Inclined Plane at the lowest height.
  4. Place the Blue Wheel flat on a table or desk.
  5. Ask students to explain (in their own words) why the wheel behaves differently on a flat vs. Inclined Plane.
  6. Introduce the concepts of balanced and unbalanced forces when responding to their descriptions: an unbalanced force of gravity on the Inclined Plane is what causes the wheel to move. The gravitational force on a flat surface is a balanced force which doesn’t cause the wheel to travel.
  1. Ask the students, “Have you ever gone down a slide?  What makes us move down the slide?” 
  2. What is the difference between sliding down a tall steep slide vs. a low one?

  3. What do you see happening here?
  4. Do you think the Blue Wheel will move the same way on this flat surface?
  5. In your own words, can you explain why the wheel travels when it is rolled down the Inclined Plane, but doesn’t travel when on a flat surface?
  6. Do you think that the force of gravity is balanced or unbalanced when the wheel sits at the top of the Inclined Plane? How about on the flat plane?

Getting the Students Ready to Build

We are going to build an Inclined Plane to see how the height of an incline and the force of gravity can impact the distance traveled by an object.

Facilitate the Build

  1. InstructInstruct students to join their group, and prepare to build the Incline Plan. Have them complete the Robotics Roles & Routines sheet. Use the Suggested Role Responsibilities slide in the Lab Image Slideshow as a guide for students to complete this sheet.

    Incline Plane Build
    Incline Plane Build


  2. DistributeDistribute build instructions to each team. Journalists should gather the materials.
  3. FacilitateFacilitate building process.
    1. Builders can begin building. If there are multiple builders, they should alternate steps to complete the build.
    2. Journalists should assist with build instructions as needed and document all Lab results.
  4. OfferOffer suggestions and note positive team building and problem solving strategies as teams build together.
A VEX GO character

Teacher Troubleshooting

Facilitation Strategies

  • Ensure that the Inclined Plane is placed on the same surface for the different measurements. Changing the surface could impact the measurement.
  • It is encouraged to place the Inclined Plane on a smooth surface such as a desk or tiled floor. Placing it on a rough surface such as a carpet could impact the distance traveled of the Blue Wheel.