Mathematics /Physics

The Soup Roll

Christine Fair Farragut High School

2345 S Christiana

Chicago IL 60623

(773) 534-1300


This lesson is designed for Grade 5.

Students will be able to determine if the contents of a can affect how long it takes to roll down an incline.

Materials Needed:

3 6 x 1’ ft. slantboards

3 cans each of a creamy soup, a broth and a chunky 10 ¾ ounce soup cans

3 cooperative learning groups which elect a leader, roller and time keeper.

clock with a second hand

1 worksheet per group

3 yardsticks

2 inertia rods

(2 yardsticks with weights attached)


Students will be divided up into groups. Each group will get a can of each type of soup, a stopwatch, a work sheet and a slantboard. Students will roll each can 3 times down the slantboard and record the time from the top of the inclined plane to the very bottom where a yardstick will be placed. Each group will do this three times and average the results. Students will record their times on their worksheets. Do the same thing on a smooth, flat surface, such as the table top or the floor. Is there a difference in your results? Conclude whether a different type of soup rolls faster or slower and explain why.

Students will then try and roll two can down the slantboard at the same time. Students will time the soups to see which moves faster. They will record their findings. Students will be asked to explain why they think one can rolled faster than the other. Students should conclude the heavier can moves slower because of its weight and contents.

A final exercise that could be tried with the entire class is to have class compare to weighted inertia rods. Two students are ask to lift an inertia rod in one hand, with that hand extended. Each student must hold the rod vertically; twisting the inertia rod back and forth with the arm as an axis of rotation. Have two more pupils count how many times the pupils twist the rods. Have the pupils exchange inertia rods, and do the exercise again. The class is the audience. Pose the question to the class "why do you think one person was able to move they’re inertia rod faster?" The students should be able after exchanging rods to determine that the weights of the two inertia rods are equal, but the weight is distributed differently in each of the rods. The class must explain why one pupil can twist his rod faster than the other pupil. Their explanation must correspond with the explanation of why one type of soup can rolls faster than the others due to the differing weight factors.

Performance Assessment:

Students will be assessed based on their participation. The teacher will observe and pass by each station and ask each student why they feel this phenomena is happening. All students should be able to tell what they saw happening.