I think the teddy zip wire is one of my favourite activities we’ve ever done, just because it’s so adaptable to children of all ages and abilities. My 4 year old uses it as a big imaginative game, talking to her teddies, telling them not to be scared and lining them up so everyone gets a go. My 6 year old makes the most amazing harnesses for us to test, and my 7 year old likes to time the descent and find the fastest combination of zip line, harness and incline of the wire. I cannot tell you how much it made me smile to watch the three of them busily working away on their different approaches to the activity.
The zip wire is brilliant outside on a fine day and also a great indoor boredom buster. Could you set up several in a row and have a race?
String, wire or wool
Pipe cleaners and straws
This is another great activity for learning about correct experimental methods. Can you list the potential variables? Have we forgotton any?
Type of zip wire
Incline of zip wire
Weight of teddy
Type of harness
To test a variable all others must remain constant, for example to test whether the weight of the teddy makes a difference, keep the type of wire, incline and harness exactly the same. We usually repeat each test 3 times and take the average time taken to help reduce errors.
Test each variable recording the time taken from top to bottom for each.
Can you work out the best combination of each variable to get the teddy to the bottom the fastest?
Things to think about
Friction – we found the descent was much slower with our rough string than smooth wire. This is because the string is rough, meaning there is more friction to slow the bear down. In the same way our harness with just the pipecleaner made for a slower descent than the pipecleaner and straw. The straw is much smoother and so reduces the friction, speeding the bear up.
Please be very careful with this activity, it’s for teddies and small soft toys only!! Supervise children at all times.
More Friction Experiments
Simple slipping and sliding activity.
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