Educational Resources Lets Talk Science Challenge participants

Water slides

Water slides (Michal Jarmoluk, Pixabay)

How Surfaces Affect Motion

Let's Talk Science
Format
Text,  Images
Physics,  Science
Movement
Properties of Materials
Pushes & Pulls
Characteristics of Objects

Summary

Will it slide or stick? Students conduct a fair test to investigate how different solid surfaces affect the movement of an object on a ramp.

Overview

Students use the skills of predicting and planning a fair test to investigate how different solid surfaces affect the movement of an object on a ramp.

Timing
30-45 minutes

Setting the Stage

Imagine your world without any friction. You sit on a chair and you slide right off. You try to stand up and your feet cannot grip the floor to push yourself up. Or, you pedal your bike and the wheels spin wildly with no effort, but the bike goes nowhere because the tires will not grab the ground to pull you forward.

Friction is the force that resists motion – it slows down or altogether stops motion. Friction is caused when two objects rub against each other. Friction happens when two solid materials rub together, but it also happens when different forms of matter move past each other (e.g., a solid moving through a fluid such as air or water creates air resistance or water resistance).

In this inquiry, students use the skills of predicting and planning a fair test to investigate how different solid surfaces affect the movement of an object on a ramp. By identifying, analyzing and interpreting patterns in the data they collect, students discover that friction, an invisible force, both helps and hinders things we do in our day to day lives.

This inquiry could begin from:

  • students comparing how it feels to rub their hands together vigorously with and without a common lubricant (sliding friction).        Note: Prior to doing this activity with students, check for sensitivities to smell and/or skin allergies.                                                                Discuss using questions such as:
    • “What happens when we rub our hands together?”
    • “What did you notice when we added some olive oil (or unscented hand lotion) to our hands?”
    • “What are some jobs, tasks or activities where you might want your hands to be better at gripping? What things can you do to improve the grip of your hands?” (e.g., in order to get a better grip on the apparatus, gymnasts wear special gloves and/or use chalk dust to coat their hands)
Children playing with soap and water
Children playing with soap and water (Source: Hanne Hansu via Pixabay).
  • showing a picture of snowy, icy streets in winter. Discuss using questions such as:
    • “Why is it harder and more dangerous to walk in winter?”
    • “What can help make it easier and safer?”
    • “How does friction help or hinder us in situations like these?” (e.g., wax on skis, brakes on cars and bikes, rubber treads on shoes, grippers on pencils and pens.)
An ice-covered gravel road
An ice-covered gravel road (Source: Huw Williams [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons).
  • reading a book such as And Everyone Shouted, "Pull!": A First Look at Forces and Motion by Claire Llewellyn or Oscar and the Cricket: A Book About Moving and Rolling by Geoff Waring. Discuss using questions such as:
    • “What are some of the problems faced by the characters in the story?”
    • “How did the characters in the book solve their problems?”
    • “How was friction involved in causing their problems or creating solutions?”
Front cover of And Everyone Shouted, “Pull!” by Claire Llewellyn
Cover of And Everyone Shouted, “Pull!” by Claire Llewellyn (Source: Openlibrary).

Details

Materials
  • ramp (e.g., wood, cardboard, cookie sheet, plastic cardboard, a piece of plastic eavestrough) – 1 per group
  • selection of materials with various textures and surfaces (e.g., sandpaper, aluminum foil, carpet, paper, artificial turf or grass, soil, linoleum, corduroy, flannel) – 1 set per group
  • plastic domino, toy car, or toy train to travel down the ramp – 1 per group
Suggested materials for ramps
Suggested materials for ramps (© 2019 Let's Talk Science).

 

Materials
  • ramp (e.g., wood, cardboard, cookie sheet, plastic cardboard, a piece of plastic eavestrough) – 1 per group
  • selection of materials with various textures and surfaces (e.g., sandpaper, aluminum foil, carpet, paper, artificial turf or grass, soil, linoleum, corduroy, flannel) – 1 set per group
  • plastic domino, toy car, or toy train to travel down the ramp – 1 per group
Suggested materials for ramps
Suggested materials for ramps (© 2019 Let's Talk Science).

 

Preparation
Example of a marble run
Example of a marble run (© 2019 Let's Talk Science).
Preparation
Example of a marble run
Example of a marble run (© 2019 Let's Talk Science).
What to Do

Students use an Inquiry Journal or Inquiry Summary learning strategy to develop and apply the skills of Predicting, Planning and Analyzing & Interpreting results as they learn about the properties of materials that affect the movement of an object.

Students:

  • compare and contrast the different surface materials available using their senses.
  • predict how each of the materials will change the motion
  • devise and record a plan for conducting a fair test of materials for their ability to slow down/stop a sliding object (e.g., domino) or rolling object (e.g., toy car).
  • record observations and compare the results with their predictions.
  • analyze and interpret the results of the fair test to draw conclusions about the properties of materials and friction.
Fair test set-up to compare bubble wrap, foil, paper and artificial turf
Fair test set-up to compare bubble wrap, foil, paper and artificial turf (© 2019 Let's Talk Science).
What to Do

Students use an Inquiry Journal or Inquiry Summary learning strategy to develop and apply the skills of Predicting, Planning and Analyzing & Interpreting results as they learn about the properties of materials that affect the movement of an object.

Students:

  • compare and contrast the different surface materials available using their senses.
  • predict how each of the materials will change the motion
  • devise and record a plan for conducting a fair test of materials for their ability to slow down/stop a sliding object (e.g., domino) or rolling object (e.g., toy car).
  • record observations and compare the results with their predictions.
  • analyze and interpret the results of the fair test to draw conclusions about the properties of materials and friction.
Fair test set-up to compare bubble wrap, foil, paper and artificial turf
Fair test set-up to compare bubble wrap, foil, paper and artificial turf (© 2019 Let's Talk Science).
Assessment

Observe and document, using anecdotal comments, photos and/or video recordings, students’ ability to:

  • Predict - students use their prior knowledge and skills of comparing and contrasting to predict which materials and variables are most likely to change the motion of an object.
  • Plan a Process to conduct a fair test - students generate a plan and carry out a controlled experiment/fair test where they keep everything constant (e.g., the tilt of the ramp, the type of car, the starting point on the ramp), have one dependent variable (e.g., the type of ramp materials) and manage data (e.g., use a chart for observations made).
  • Analyze and Interpret - students look for patterns in the results and attempt to explain the patterns they have observed.
Assessment

Observe and document, using anecdotal comments, photos and/or video recordings, students’ ability to:

  • Predict - students use their prior knowledge and skills of comparing and contrasting to predict which materials and variables are most likely to change the motion of an object.
  • Plan a Process to conduct a fair test - students generate a plan and carry out a controlled experiment/fair test where they keep everything constant (e.g., the tilt of the ramp, the type of car, the starting point on the ramp), have one dependent variable (e.g., the type of ramp materials) and manage data (e.g., use a chart for observations made).
  • Analyze and Interpret - students look for patterns in the results and attempt to explain the patterns they have observed.
Co-constructed Learning
Students:
Saying, Doing, Representing
Educator:
Interactions: Responding, Challenging
Use their senses to compare & contrast the different materials available.
  • “What do you observe about these materials?”
  • “Which senses are most helpful for comparing these materials?”
  • “How would you describe this material?”
Predict which materials will change the motion.
  • “Which characteristic(s) of the material(s) do you think will have an impact on how the object travels down the ramp?”
  • “How do you think the material(s) will change the movement?”
Devise and record a plan for conducting a fair test of materials, working collaboratively to compare how the test materials affect the motion of the object on the ramp.
  • “What things will you plan to do to make sure the test is fair for each type of material?”
  • “Why it is important to make the test fair?”
  • “How will you record the plan for your inquiry?
  • “How will you make your plan clear so that another person could try it?”
Analyze and interpret the results of their fair test and compare results with their predictions.
  • “How would you describe your observation in words?”
  • “What observations can you measure?
  • “How will you record your observations?”
  • “How have the results of your testing compared to your predictions?“
Analyze and interpret the results of the fair test to draw conclusions about the properties of materials and friction.
  • “How did each of the different surfaces affect motion?”
  • “How would you describe the materials that slowed down the motion of the object?”
  • “How might different objects move on each of these surfaces?”
  • “What connections to ‘real life’ situations can you make based on the results?”
  • “What further tests could you do to learn more about friction?”

 

Co-constructed Learning
Students:
Saying, Doing, Representing
Educator:
Interactions: Responding, Challenging
Use their senses to compare & contrast the different materials available.
  • “What do you observe about these materials?”
  • “Which senses are most helpful for comparing these materials?”
  • “How would you describe this material?”
Predict which materials will change the motion.
  • “Which characteristic(s) of the material(s) do you think will have an impact on how the object travels down the ramp?”
  • “How do you think the material(s) will change the movement?”
Devise and record a plan for conducting a fair test of materials, working collaboratively to compare how the test materials affect the motion of the object on the ramp.
  • “What things will you plan to do to make sure the test is fair for each type of material?”
  • “Why it is important to make the test fair?”
  • “How will you record the plan for your inquiry?
  • “How will you make your plan clear so that another person could try it?”
Analyze and interpret the results of their fair test and compare results with their predictions.
  • “How would you describe your observation in words?”
  • “What observations can you measure?
  • “How will you record your observations?”
  • “How have the results of your testing compared to your predictions?“
Analyze and interpret the results of the fair test to draw conclusions about the properties of materials and friction.
  • “How did each of the different surfaces affect motion?”
  • “How would you describe the materials that slowed down the motion of the object?”
  • “How might different objects move on each of these surfaces?”
  • “What connections to ‘real life’ situations can you make based on the results?”
  • “What further tests could you do to learn more about friction?”

 

Cross-curricular Connections

Literacy

  • use planning skills (e.g., generating ideas, gathering and organizing information)
  • make connections (e.g., between prior knowledge of materials and new context)
  • recognize and use organizational patterns in texts (e.g., put in proper sequence the steps needed to conduct a fair test)

Mathematical Thinking

  • measure and describe the passage of time (e.g., the time in seconds it takes objects to slide down the ramp) and length (e.g., measure the height of the ramp(s) in centimetres to ensure fair testing)

Physical Education

  • develop and apply effort awareness (e.g., explore the impact of friction on body movements in various sports activities such as running on different surfaces, playing games on different surfaces; identify examples of friction in action during games and activities)
Feet of runner positioned at starting block
Feet of runner positioned at starting block (Source: tableatny [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons).
A clap skate increases friction because the blade stays on the ice for longer during the stroke
A clap skate increases friction because the blade stays on the ice for longer during the stroke (Source: Max Dohle [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons).
  • develop awareness of the benefits of technological innovations with regard to personal safety, injury prevention and performance:
    • e.g., compare materials and technical innovations in sports equipment or sports clothing to reduce or increase friction; examples include racket grips, running cleats, ski wax, no-wax skis, roller skate brakes, shoe grippers and slippers for curling, curling brooms, clap skates for speed skating, Fastskin™ swimsuit material, full-body swimsuits, bodysuits for speed skating and luges

Music

  • create compositions for a specific purpose and audience (e.g., create a friction soundscape using different techniques and surfaces in the classroom such as rubbing hands across different textured surface or rubbing surfaces of two objects together to make sounds)
Cross-curricular Connections

Literacy

  • use planning skills (e.g., generating ideas, gathering and organizing information)
  • make connections (e.g., between prior knowledge of materials and new context)
  • recognize and use organizational patterns in texts (e.g., put in proper sequence the steps needed to conduct a fair test)

Mathematical Thinking

  • measure and describe the passage of time (e.g., the time in seconds it takes objects to slide down the ramp) and length (e.g., measure the height of the ramp(s) in centimetres to ensure fair testing)

Physical Education

  • develop and apply effort awareness (e.g., explore the impact of friction on body movements in various sports activities such as running on different surfaces, playing games on different surfaces; identify examples of friction in action during games and activities)
Feet of runner positioned at starting block
Feet of runner positioned at starting block (Source: tableatny [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons).
A clap skate increases friction because the blade stays on the ice for longer during the stroke
A clap skate increases friction because the blade stays on the ice for longer during the stroke (Source: Max Dohle [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons).
  • develop awareness of the benefits of technological innovations with regard to personal safety, injury prevention and performance:
    • e.g., compare materials and technical innovations in sports equipment or sports clothing to reduce or increase friction; examples include racket grips, running cleats, ski wax, no-wax skis, roller skate brakes, shoe grippers and slippers for curling, curling brooms, clap skates for speed skating, Fastskin™ swimsuit material, full-body swimsuits, bodysuits for speed skating and luges

Music

  • create compositions for a specific purpose and audience (e.g., create a friction soundscape using different techniques and surfaces in the classroom such as rubbing hands across different textured surface or rubbing surfaces of two objects together to make sounds)
Extending the Learning
  • How does the length of the ramp change the motion of the object? Conduct a fair test using ramps of different lengths and the same variety of different surfaces (e.g., wood, carpet, grass, cement, dirt) to see how the length of the ramp affects the movement of the object.
  • How does the weight of an object affect its motion? Conduct a fair test using objects of different masses (e.g., big marble, small marble, bigger toy car, etc.) with the same set-up and variety of surfaces to explore how the mass of an object affects its movement.
  • How does the height of the ramp affect motion of an object? Conduct a fair test using ramps of different heights/angles using a similar set-up and variety of surfaces.
Large excavator being unloaded from a ship
Large excavator being unloaded from a ship (U.S. Navy photo by Paul Farley [public domain] via Wikimedia Commons).
Water slide
Water slide (Source: Paul Brennan via Pixabay).

 

Extending the Learning
  • How does the length of the ramp change the motion of the object? Conduct a fair test using ramps of different lengths and the same variety of different surfaces (e.g., wood, carpet, grass, cement, dirt) to see how the length of the ramp affects the movement of the object.
  • How does the weight of an object affect its motion? Conduct a fair test using objects of different masses (e.g., big marble, small marble, bigger toy car, etc.) with the same set-up and variety of surfaces to explore how the mass of an object affects its movement.
  • How does the height of the ramp affect motion of an object? Conduct a fair test using ramps of different heights/angles using a similar set-up and variety of surfaces.
Large excavator being unloaded from a ship
Large excavator being unloaded from a ship (U.S. Navy photo by Paul Farley [public domain] via Wikimedia Commons).
Water slide
Water slide (Source: Paul Brennan via Pixabay).

 

Supporting Media
Front cover of And Everyone Shouted, “Pull!” by Claire Llewellyn
Cover of And Everyone Shouted, “Pull!” by Claire Llewellyn (Source: Openlibrary).

And Everyone Shouted "Pull": A First Look at Forces and Motion
by Claire Llewellyn
Learn about forces and motion as you join the farm animals on their trip to the market. The wheels on their cart help when they push, pull and stop on their journey.
ISBN: 9781404806566

Cover of Oscar and the Cricket by Geoff Waring
Cover of Oscar and the Cricket by Geoff Waring (Source: US archive).

Oscar and the Cricket
By Geoff Waring
One day Oscar sees a ball in the grass. "Try pushing it!" says Cricket. Oscar learns that the ball rolls slowly in grass and faster on a path, until it bounces off a tree and changes direction. Some things need a push to move, and others use their muscles to move themselves — and to move plenty of other things, too.
ISBN 9780763640293

 

Supporting Media
Front cover of And Everyone Shouted, “Pull!” by Claire Llewellyn
Cover of And Everyone Shouted, “Pull!” by Claire Llewellyn (Source: Openlibrary).

And Everyone Shouted "Pull": A First Look at Forces and Motion
by Claire Llewellyn
Learn about forces and motion as you join the farm animals on their trip to the market. The wheels on their cart help when they push, pull and stop on their journey.
ISBN: 9781404806566

Cover of Oscar and the Cricket by Geoff Waring
Cover of Oscar and the Cricket by Geoff Waring (Source: US archive).

Oscar and the Cricket
By Geoff Waring
One day Oscar sees a ball in the grass. "Try pushing it!" says Cricket. Oscar learns that the ball rolls slowly in grass and faster on a path, until it bounces off a tree and changes direction. Some things need a push to move, and others use their muscles to move themselves — and to move plenty of other things, too.
ISBN 9780763640293

 

Learn More

Push and Pull (Lessons)

What is a force? Students compare the forces involved in familiar everyday activities such as pushing a swing, propelling a skateboard forward, or pulling a wagon and the forces of push and pull.

Design & Build a Non-slip Boot Tread (Lessons) 

Students work collaboratively to design and build a boot tread that will use friction to prevent slipping on an incline.

Design & Build a Toy that Moves (Lessons)

Students will work collaboratively to design and build a toy that is moved using forces applied by magnets.

 

Learn More

Push and Pull (Lessons)

What is a force? Students compare the forces involved in familiar everyday activities such as pushing a swing, propelling a skateboard forward, or pulling a wagon and the forces of push and pull.

Design & Build a Non-slip Boot Tread (Lessons) 

Students work collaboratively to design and build a boot tread that will use friction to prevent slipping on an incline.

Design & Build a Toy that Moves (Lessons)

Students will work collaboratively to design and build a toy that is moved using forces applied by magnets.