2nd – 4th grades
Difficulty of Project
Less than $20.00
An adult should supervise wrapping the boards with different textures especially when using a stapler
Most of the materials may be found as scraps around the house or easily purchased from the hardware store
Approximate Time Required to Complete the Project
One to two hours to complete the experiment and collect the data; one day to prepare the science fair display
To investigate how friction affects motion
Materials and Equipment
- 2 similar boards about 4 feet long
- Books (enough to create two ramps about 2 feet high)
- 2 soda cans (unopened)
- 4 textured surfaces (enough to wrap around one of the boards completely) such as: aluminium foil, felt, burlap, carpet, linoleum, plastic, sandpaper, denim, tape, stapler and staples
Friction is the force that works against things in motion. Friction occurs when two things rub against each other. Sometimes friction makes movement difficult. Other times friction helps movement. For example, without friction it would be impossible to walk. Without friction, your feet would slide all over the place.
In this investigation, different surface textures are tested for friction against a soda can rolling down a ramp.
Terms, Concepts, and Questions to Start Background Research
Friction: a force that resists motion of solid surfaces
Force: the capacity to change or use energy
Friction is the force that works against motion. Some friction is good. Some friction makes movement difficult.
- What is friction?
- How does friction affect motion?
- What types of surfaces cause the most friction?
- Gather the necessary materials.
- Use the books and boards to construct two ramps of equal height and length.
- Cover one of the boards with one of the surface textures.
- Hold one of the soda cans at the top of each ramp. Release the cans at the exact same moment. Record which can reaches the bottom of the ramp first.
- Repeat Steps 3 – 4 recovering the boards with different textures.
“Friction: Slowing Things Down” at http://home.clara.net/darvill/enforcemot/friction.htm
“What is Friction? at http://www.fearofphysics.com/Friction/frintro.html
Science for Kids – Games & Activities – Physical Processes – Friction at http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/gamesactivities/friction.html
Warning is hereby given that not all Project Ideas are appropriate for all individuals or in all circumstances. Implementation of any Science Project Idea should be undertaken only in appropriate settings and with appropriate parental or other supervision. Reading and following the safety precautions of all materials used in a project is the sole responsibility of each individual. For further information, consult your state’s handbook of Science Safety.