Roll on Through – Research-Backed At-Home Activities – Bay Area Discovery Museum

Roll on Through

Create a path toward success! Build a ramp using cardboard and other materials, then create a pathway for round objects to roll down your ramp. Your child can incorporate the floor, stairs, countertops or furniture into their design to get the whole house involved!

Learning Goals

  • Be Curious
  • Come Up with Ideas and Try Them Out
  • Take Risks and Persist Through Challenges

Materials Required

  • Cardboard tubes and scrap pieces of cardboard
  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Masking tape
  • Scissors for cutting cardboard
  • Floor, stairs, countertop, furniture, or other household structures to support your design
  • Objects to test on the ramps and pathways, such as buttons, round beads, or small balls


  • Help your child choose a surface to build their cardboard ramp or pathway. Good options could be a countertop, stairs, the floor, or a couch.
  • Encourage your child to sketch out a plan for their design before they start building. You can prompt their creative thinking with one of these design challenges:
    • Create a pathway that does not touch the floor
    • Design a pathway using only cardboard tubes
    • Create a pathway that curves
    • Find a way to move an object through your path from one side of the room to the other
  • Have your child build their ramp or pathway using tubes, scrap cardboard, and other household materials. If needed, help them cut or bend pieces to fit their design.
  • Test the designed pathway using the buttons, beads, or other small round objects you’ve collected.

Tips for Adults

  • If your child’s pathway doesn’t work as well as they hoped, encourage them to make adjustments to improve it. Introduce BADM’s engineering design process Think, Make, Try®, which encourages children to think about their design, make adjustments, and try again until they achieve their desired result.
  • Test the ramp or pathway with multiple materials, and ask your child to compare and contrast the results. Was the tennis ball faster or slower than a round bead? Why do they think that was? What materials might be even faster?
  • To modify the activity for younger children, start by create ramps at different angles using flattened cardboard boxes. Support your child to notice what happens as they roll balls down the different ramps.
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Bay Area Discovery Museum is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing children with research-backed early learning experiences that inspire creative problem solving. We need your help now more than ever.

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