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This lesson provided by:
Author:Jane Caudle
System: Madison City
School: Discovery Middle School
Lesson Plan ID: 24083

Effects of Friction on a Moving Block


Students will move a 2 X 4 inch block with a hook attached across different surface areas. Students will discover how the friction created by these surface areas affect the movement of the block. Students will begin the activity by predicting which surface will produce the most and least friction. Five different surfaces will be tested (smooth table or desk top, wax paper, paper towel, course sandpaper and fine sandpaper).
This lesson plan was created as a result of the Girls Engaged in Math and Science, GEMS Project funded by the Malone Family Foundation.

Content Standard(s):
SC(4) 4. Describe effects of friction on moving objects.
TC2(3-5) 2. Use various technology applications, including word processing and multimedia software.
TC2(3-5) 6. Describe social and ethical behaviors related to technology use.
TC2(3-5) 8. Collect information from a variety of digital sources.
TC2(3-5) 11. Use digital tools to analyze authentic problems.
MA2015(4) 19. Know relative sizes of measurement units within one system of units, including km, m, cm; kg, g; lb, oz; l, ml; and hr, min, sec. Within a single system of measurement, express measurements in a larger unit in terms of a smaller unit. Record measurement equivalents in a two-column table. [4-MD1]
Local/National Standards:

NSTA National Science Content Standards A for grades K-4: As a result of activities in grades K-4, all students should develop abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry. NSTA National Science Content Standards B for grades K-4: As a result of the activities in grades K-4, all students should develop an understanding of position and motion of objects.

Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students will learn how friction effects the movement of objects.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

Students will make and test predictions. Students will produce data charts. Students will graph data using the appropriate type graph. Students will read the metric measurements on a spring scale.

Approximate Duration of the Lesson: 61 to 90 Minutes
Materials and Equipment:

Materials needed by each cooperative group of 2-4 students: 1. One 9 by 11 inch sheet of wax paper, paper towel,course sandpaper, fine sandpaper and a smooth desk or table top. 2. Tape to hold down the sheets of paper and to tape off a 9 by 11 inch section of the smooth desk top or table. 3. A wooden 2 by 4 inch block with a hook inserted in one end. 4. A spring scale. 5. Paper for making a chart. 6. Graph paper.

Technology Resources Needed:

Interactive website suggested for background information:;
How Stuff Works


Students should have a basic understanding of momentum (product of its mass times its velocity) and inertia (the resistance an object has to a change in its state of motion) as properties of moving objects. Students should know how to read a spring scale and how to calibrate (have the arrow on zero)it before measurement begins. The chart for the data could be drawn out by the teacher or the students must know how to draw their own chart. Students must know how to graph data using graph paper. Students must know how to average data.

1.)Divide the class into groups of 2-4 cooperative learning groups. Groups may be divided by gender and ability.

2.)Students will brainstorm and predict which surface has the most friction and associate the more friction with the more force on the spring scale.
(BBC School Science Clips: Friction)
Interactive website on friction.

3.)Optional: Students may access "Measurement for fun" website for measurement review before continuing.
(Measurement for Fun)
Interactive website for practicing measurement in both English and Metric measurement.

4.)Students will calibrate (set it on zero) the spring scale.

5.)Students will tape off a 9 by 11 inch section of the smooth table or desk top.

6.)The teacher will give out data chart or have the students make their own data chart. See Attachments for teacher made data chart.

7.)The students will attach the spring scale to the block and move the block at a steady pace across the smooth surface. Record the force in the chart. Do this two more times and find the average force.

8.)The students will move the block across each of the other surfaces and record the results. Find the average force for each surface.

9.)The students will graph the average force for each surface.
(Graphing data)
This Internet website shows students how to make a graph from a chart. It also show what type of graph is appropriate for comparing the surfaces.

10.)Conclusion of the lesson: The students will place the data of their cooperative group on a chart generated on an Interactive board, or projected computer. Students will determine how their data compared with other cooperative groups. Students will brainstorm about the type of graph that should be should be used to display the data.

11.)Students will independently make their own data chart or graph with information collected in lesson.
(Graphing Data)

Attachments:**Some files will display in a new window. Others will prompt you to download. Force of Friction on a Wooden Block Across Different Surfaces.rtf
Assessment Strategies:

Grade the charts and graphs produced by the students according to the accuracy of the math and completion of the conclusion section of the lab. Make sure lower achieving students have been in corporative groups with higher achieving students.


Assign the cooperative groups one particular surface for more testing. Students will borrow blocks from different groups and stack on top of the original block. Using the spring scale, compare the force to move one block to the force to move two or three blocks. What is the relationship? Have the students turn the block on different sides and compare the force needed to move the block across the assigned surface.


Individually review with students the math needed to find the average force on each surface. Brainstorm with the student on which type graph would be most appropriate for comparing the force on the different surfaces.

Each area below is a direct link to general teaching strategies/classroom accommodations for students with identified learning and/or behavior problems such as: reading or math performance below grade level; test or classroom assignments/quizzes at a failing level; failure to complete assignments independently; difficulty with short-term memory, abstract concepts, staying on task, or following directions; poor peer interaction or temper tantrums, and other learning or behavior problems.

Presentation of Material Environment
Time Demands Materials
Attention Using Groups and Peers
Assisting the Reluctant Starter Dealing with Inappropriate Behavior

Be sure to check the student's IEP for specific accommodations.
Variations Submitted by ALEX Users:
Alabama Virtual Library
Alabama Virtual Library

Hosted by Alabama Supercomputer Authority
The University of Alabama at Birmingham
The University of Alabama at Birmingham
The Malone Family Foundation
The Malone Family Foundation
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