Inclined Plane Lesson

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The Inclined Plane

This lesson is intended to address the BC Grade 5 Physical Science Learning Outcomes but may be adapted to suit a wide range of grade levels from Primary to Intermediate.


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Students will be able to
  • tell what an inclined plane is
  • demonstrate how an inclined plane makes lifting easier
  • give a real life example of an inclined plane

Introductory Note

The teacher will guide students to discover that a simple machine, i.e. an inclined plane, can make lifting easier. Discussion about an inclined plane(ramp) will follow the discovery lesson.

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How can we make lifting easier?


  • small table or desk
  • string about 1.5m long
  • two small boxes (shoebox size or smaller)
  • small can of tuna or salmon
  • several weights of equal mass
  • metre stick


  1. Explain that you are a worker at the building supply store and your boss has asked you to move the bricks from the bottom shelf to the top shelf using the lift he has in place.
  2. Attach each end of the string to the boxes. Label them Box A and Box B.
  3. Place Box A on the floor and hang Box B over the desk/table.
  4. A student adds weights to Box B until Box A lifts off the floor. Measure the distance it came off the floor and record how may weights were used.
  5. Ask if anyone can think of way to make the lifting easier using the metre stick. Accept ideas and try them out. Guide students to suggest using the metre stick as an inlcined plane.
  6. Try the procedure again using the metre stick and counting weights needed to move the Box A. Measure the distance Box A moved along the inclined plane. Compare the weight needed to move Box A both ways.

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Whole Class Discussion

  • What conclusion can be reached? What have we learned about using an inclined plane to move objects from one elevation to another? (The simple machine we used today to help make the work easier is called an inclined plane. Pushing or pulling an object using an inclined plane is easier than lifting it.)
  • What are some real life examples of inclined planes? (wheelchair ramp, loading ramp for moving vans and delivery trucks, boat launch,etc.)


  • Does increasing or decreasing the slope of the inclined plane change the amount of effort required to move the object?
  • Does the type of material used to make the inclined plane make a difference to the amount of effort required to move the object?

Return to: Simple Machines