On a rainy day, my children can often be found skidding down our hallway. We have wooden floors, so they are slippy enough to be fun, but not so slippy it’s dangerous.
We have found that skidding is a lot more fun when wearing socks, but why is this?
The answer is Friction.
Friction is a force that opposes motion between two materials moving past each other. Frictional forces act in the opposite direction to the object trying to move and must be overcome for movement to start. Frictional forces are less on smooth surfaces, which is why we slide more easily when wearing socks.
If you think how easy it is to slide two bits of ribbon over each other and then think how hard it would be to do the same with two velcro strips, it makes it easier to visualise.
Ideas for learning about friction
Try sliding on different surfaces with bare feet. Is it easier or harder on carpet than wood or tiles?
Try the same with socks on. Does it make a difference? What about wearing socks made of different materials?
What about when you slide down a slide? Is it easier in tracksuit bottoms or jeans?
Roll a toy car on carpet and tiles to investigate which surface the car travels the furthest. Friction slows objects down, so the car will move less far on the surface where there is more friction.
Make a friction ramp with different surfaces for toy cars to roll down.
A friction tray is a slightly neater way to carry out the same investigation.
Last Updated on July 4, 2023 by Emma Vanstone