Fun Friction Experiments Students Will Enjoy
Inertia is defined as the tendency of an object to resist any change in its state of motion. In other words an object at rest will remain at rest and an object in motion will remain in motion. Inertia is part of the force that creates friction between surfaces and keeps a baseball flying to the outfield. Students can perform these interactive inertia activities to better understand how this powerful force works.
Friction is the force that resists movement between two objects. The sudden loss of friction when walking will cause a person to slip and fall, as often happens on an icy surface. Students can test the limits of this change in friction with wood blocks and a ramp. Students should place the wood block on one end of a sheet of plywood. Raise the end with the plywood until the block moves. Measure the height of the ramp. Soak the plywood in water and freeze it overnight. Repeat the experiment.
The block ramp height should be lower when it is icy. Students can modify this experiment by placing sand on the ramp to see how that affects the friction. Additionally, if wheels are added to the block the height of the ramp will be lower.
Friction also applies to other types of ramps, such as slides. Students can experiment with friction by competing to create the fastest time for a person going down a slide. Students will choose different materials to sit on when sliding to determine what material increases speed. Items that could be used include carpet, plastic bags, paper bag, a towel or a pillowcase.
Different ways friction affects liquids and solids can be demonstrated with two eggs. One egg should be hard boiled and the other remains raw. Students can identify the hard boiled egg by spinning them both. The egg that spins smoothly is the hard boiled one, since the inside is solid. The raw egg will not spin smoothly as the yolk and egg white will move at different rates and cause the egg to wobble.