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Activity 10

Teacher Notes: Static and Kinetic Friction

PS-2826

Teacher Notes Activity 10: Static and Kinetic Friction


Time Estimates

Preparation: 20 min

Activity: 30 min

Objectives
Students will be able to

use a Force Sensor to measure the force of static and kinetic friction for different materials.

use the Xplorer GLX to record and display the force from the sensor.

use the graph of force versus time and the built-in analysis tools of the Xplorer GLX to determine the
maximum force of friction (static friction) and the force of kinetic (sliding) friction (average force during
sliding).

calculate the normal force and the coefficients of static and kinetic friction for the different materials.

Notes
An alternative to sliding the Force Sensor along the top of the track is to place a block under the
sensor so that the string between the sensor and the friction tray is parallel to the track. (The
ME-9807 IDS Friction Block is the right height for this.)
A coefficient of friction is specific to a combination of surfaces. For example, the coefficient of
static friction for wood-on-wood is 0.5 and the coefficient of kinetic friction is 0.3. However, for
rubber on dry concrete, s is 1.0 and k is 0.7. On the other hand, for shoes on ice, s is 0.1 and k
is 0.05.
Use a rubber band and a heavy block to demonstrate static friction. Connect the rubber band to
the block in such a way that you can drag the block across a horizontal surface by pulling the
rubber band. Start the demonstration with some slack in the
rubber band. Have students observe the rubber band as you
begin to pull the block. They should notice that the rubber
band becomes taut and then stretches a little bit before the
block moves.
Encourage the students to practice before they start recording data. Also, encourage them to
repeat a data run if they feel it does not look right.

Introductory Physics with the Xplorer GLX

2006 PASCO

p. 35

Activity 10

Teacher Notes: Static and Kinetic Friction

PS-2826

Sample Data
The screenshots show the Graph displays of force data for the felt friction tray and for the cork
friction tray, the Table displays for normal force, static friction, and kinetic friction, and the
Graph displays of static and kinetic friction versus normal force.

Run 1, felt, static friction

Run 1, felt, kinetic friction

Table, felt

Table, cork

Felt, coefficient of static friction

Cork, coefficient of static friction

Felt, coefficient of kinetic friction

Cork, coefficient of kinetic friction

Introductory Physics with the Xplorer GLX

2006 PASCO

p. 36

Activity 10

Teacher Notes: Static and Kinetic Friction

PS-2826

Lab Report Activity 10: Static and Kinetic Friction


Answers and Sample Data
Prediction
1.

When comparing a felt surface to a cork surface, which material will have the higher value
for its coefficient of kinetic friction?

The cork surface will have the higher value for its coefficient of kinetic friction.
2.

How does the normal force acting on an object affect the force of friction?

As the normal force increases, the force of friction increases.

Data
Sketch a graph for one run of force versus time data. Include units and labels for your axes. (See
Sample Data.)
Data Table 1
Item

Mass (kg)

Normal Force (N)

Fs (N) static friction

Fk (N) kinetic friction

Felt (0.2 kg added)

0.284

2.78

0.69

0.49

Felt (0.4 kg added)

0.484

4.74

0.90

0.76

Felt (0.6 kg added)

0.685

6.71

1.44

1.08

Mass (kg)

Normal Force (N)

Fs (N) static friction

Fk (N) kinetic friction

Cork (0.2 kg added)

0.294

2.83

1.11

0.90

Cork (0.4 kg added)

0.493

4.83

1.85

1.50

Cork (0.6 kg added)

0.694

6.80

2.77

2.29

Item

Calculations
Use your data for the mass of the friction tray to calculate the normal force for each run.
(Normal Force = FN = mg where g = 9.8 N/kg)
Data Table 2
Enter your values for Normal Force, static friction, and kinetic friction into the GLX Table.
Use the graph of static friction versus normal force to determine the coefficient of static friction,
s. Use the graph of kinetic friction versus normal force to determine the coefficient of kinetic
friction, k.
Item

Felt

0.191

0.150

Cork

0.424

0.355

Introductory Physics with the Xplorer GLX

2006 PASCO

p. 37

Activity 10

Teacher Notes: Static and Kinetic Friction

PS-2826

Questions
1.

What is the physical quantity represented by the ratio of friction force to normal force?

The coefficient of friction is the physical quantity represented by the ratio of friction force to
normal force.
2.

What pattern do you notice about the values for the coefficients of friction?

The value of static friction for both surfaces is higher than the value of kinetic (sliding) friction
for both surfaces.
3.

What happens to the static friction force as the mass is increased? Why does this happen?

As the mass increases, the static friction increases. This is because the normal force increases as
the mass increases.
4.

What happens to the kinetic friction force as the mass is increased? Why does this happen?

As the mass increases, the kinetic friction increases. This is also because the normal force
increases as the mass increases.
5.

What are the units for the coefficient of friction? Explain.

The coefficient of friction is a unit-less number because it is the ratio of two forces (so the units
cancel).
6.

Think about your experience with the friction trays. When a car skids to a stop (with
wheels locked), which friction force is at work? How do you know?

The friction when a car skids to a stop is kinetic friction. This is the kind of friction between
surfaces that are sliding over one another (such as car tires sliding over the road surface).
7.

Do your results support your predictions?

Answers will vary.

Introductory Physics with the Xplorer GLX

2006 PASCO

p. 38