Make friction fun using these simple activities you can do in your class with no prep and very few supplies.
Activity #1: Interleaving a pair of phone books.
I’m sure you’ve seen this demonstration where someone puts one page of one phone book down then the first page of the second on top of it. You repeat this process until many of the pages are on top of each other.
I get the phones books from my local post office or any office building if needed. They still get them and since I only teach the concept a few times each year, I just save them when I come across them.
I don’t even do the work. I’ll have a student do it for the first 10-15 minutes of class in-between taking notes. They’re small books really so it doesn’t take much time. Plus, they don’t do every sheet, usually 10 at a time.
When they’re ready, I’ll get two students at the front and have them try to pull them apart. It’s good fun.
The physics behind the activity – Generally speaking, interleaving the phone books greatly increases the surface area and contact points for friction to occur. When many pages are touching, the overall friction is substantial.
Activity #2: Slide objects down a ramp and time them.
Any objects really. I just get my kids to look around the room and get two things they can slide down a ramp (shelves work well but even an inclined textbook will do if you don’t have anything else).
If you want to get fancy you can create ramps with different surfaces or give your students objects that are textured, etc. It’s up to you.
The point is to create a discussion afterward about what kinds of objects slide faster than others and why. We go from there further into our lesson on friction.
The physics behind the activity – Rougher, heavier surfaces will experience greater friction and take more time to slide down the ramp.
I’ll spend a day on the demos and lesson (maybe two days if my class is a little slower or we’re having fun with the activities. On day 2 or 3, I get my kids to complete my Friction Scavenger Hunt activity.
Just click the image below to download the activity now.
Devon – Teach With Fergy