Acceleration: Going Uphill

  • Kinazium set
  • Sphero Bolt, Mini, or other robot
Amount of time:
  • 30 - 45 minutes
Grade Levels:
  • 3rd - 6th


This activity introduces the Physics concept of acceleration. It teaches how you may need distance to accelerate to achieve the speed necessary to climb an obstacle.

This activity can also be used to teach about Slope (Rise over Run) a Math concept, this is described in the definitions below.


  1. Have students build a ramp with a slope that makes it hard from a standing start at the bottom of the ramp for a robot to rise over. It will be helpful to also put a set of walls leading up to the ramp to help with robot control. (photo from video or diagram?)

    NOTE: Robots with traction like caterpillar tracks may need a very steep hill to fail, so it may be difficult to demonstrate the concept if they have very good traction.

  2. Next, test the ability of the robot to go over the hill, the ramp should be steep enough for the robot to struggle and or fail to go over the ramp

  3. Move the Robot back between the walls, and test it at various distances. (There is an assumption your robot will accelerate as power is applied.)


Slope: The ratio of rise over run, the height of the hill over the diagonal length of the hill(to demonstrate, use a 30/60 triangle to show a slow rise versus a steep rise depending on which side you use for the base of the triangle)

Acceleration: Attaining speed over distance

Traction: Stickiness of one surface with another

Slip: When an object can’t achieve enough speed or traction


Discuss the results with the students.

Advanced Activity: Have them try some validation exercises, like timing the robot from different distances to more closely examine speed. Measure the distance and the time and they can determine the speed. (Speed = distance / time)