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Toys In MotionRollers and Rockers

The Task
Using what they know about gravity and motion, students construct a toy that rolls or rocks.

Leading the Activity
Have students construct the roller toy and the rocker toy and demonstrate how each behaves to the students. Ask the students what they think is causing each toy to behave the way it does. Show them the materials and ask which toy might have the marble inside and which has the clay. Encourage them to again think about and offer explanations for each toy behavior. Distribute the materials to each group and challenge students to construct and investigate each toy. Remind students to handle scissors carefully.

Materials (per student group)


The Roller Toy

  1. Carefully puncture the ping pong ball with the scissors at the join line.
  2. Cut around the ball on the line.
  3. Roll the construction paper strip into a tube to just fit inside one half of the ping pong ball.
  4. Tape the tube together.
  5. Stick the tube into one half of the ping pong ball and secure with tape.
  6. Place the marble in the tube and secure the other half of the ball on the open end of the tube with tape.
  7. Raise the cardboard piece to make a slight ramp.
  8. Place the Roller at the top of the cardboard ramp and release.
  9. Repeat Step 7 with varying ramp heights to determine which works best for the Roller.

The Rocker Toy

  1. Draw a 14 cm diameter circle on the construction paper sheet using the compass.
  2. Cut out the circle and fold it in half.
  3. Cut along the fold.
  4. Using one of the half circles, form a cone shape and secure it with tape.
  5. Place a lump of clay securely in the bottom of the ping pong ball half.
  6. Glue the cone over the opening of the ball.
  7. Use crayons or markers to make a funny face on the Rocker.
  8. Push the Rocker over on its side and watch what happens.
These ideas have been adapted from: The Knowhow Book of Action Toys, Usborne Publishing Ltd, London, 1975.


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