Fun Physics Activities for Kids

Slide Friction

Find the truth in friction with the Slide Friction physics activity.
Find the truth in friction with the Slide Friction physics activity.
Publications International, Ltd.

In the Slide Friction physics activity, kids will learn about the force of friction and how it is reduced, all while hanging out at the playground.

­Friction is a force that stops motion. If there were no friction in the world, anything that starts moving in one direction would never stop. If you slide a wooden block across a floor, friction between the block and the floor makes the block stop.

What You'll Need:

  • Playground slide
  • Items to be tested (toys with wheels, wooden blocks, rocks),
  • Stopwatch
  • Partner
  • Waxed paper
  • Water

Lay out the items to be tested and decide which ones you think will go down the slide the fastest. Test each item one at a time. With your stopwatch ready, have your child hold one item at the top of the slide and release it on your signal. See how long it takes for the item to reach the bottom. Which objects go the fastest? What qualities made them move faster than others?Now, take one of the objects and rub the bottom of it with waxed paper. See how long it takes for it to reach the bottom of the slide. Try setting it on a square of waxed paper and see if that reduces friction. Wet the slide and see what effect water has. Will the items move faster or slower? Does the amount of water matter?A playground see-saw teaches kids about balance and scales in the activity on the next page -- find out how!

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