Factors that Affect Friction Lab

In this lab, students look at various factors that affect the frictional force between two objects:

-Type of surface

-Mass of objects

-Type of friction

-Surface area

Materials Required:

-Spring scale (1x, if data is collected as a class…otherwise, 1x per student group)
-Block of wood (I used a 1ft piece of sanded 2x4)
-Some method of attaching the scale to the block (to pull it)
-A piece of sandpaper
-Wooden dowels
-An object with roughly 2-3x the mass of the block (heavy book?)

I use a digital force gauge, connected to my computer, in conjunction with a camera, to collect the data from the lab as a CLASS, so everyone’s working from the same data set. This could also be done with an analog spring scale, and a camera. It just depends on whether you want them to collect their OWN data or not.

An answer key is included. The data is specific to the lab, as I completed it in my classroom, but it gives you an idea of what the results SHOULD look like, relative to the factors being tested in the lab.

I also have a video of the lab available, should materials not be available, students need to make up the lab, or you’re a teacher that would like to see how the lab works.

I use this lab in my 7th grade classroom, but it would work equally well in a higher level classroom, particularly, if students are pushed farther when it comes to defending answers with data from the lab, or creating more complex explanations of the results.

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Created: Dec 29, 2018


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