In this guided inquiry lesson, students are invited to explore the effect of surface texture on the ease of motion. Through their investigation, students will discover the concept of frictional force. They will use data gathered in an engaging experiment o answer the question, "What is the relationship between various shoe sole materials and ease of motion?" A pre-lesson assessment will inform the teacher about students' skills, prior knowledge, and misconceptions. In particular, the results of the pre-lesson assessment will help to identify students who may need additional support with measurement, data collection, and graphing.
Students will first view a video clip of Michael Jackson's "moon walk" and discuss how he is able to move so effortlessly across the floor. They will then work in groups of four to design a way to attach different materials to a shoe in order to investigate the grip of different shoe soles. Students will work together to measure the stretch of a rubber band as they try to move the shoe along the floor.
Student groups will the find averages of their data, create bar graphs, and combine the class data in a scatter plot. This data will aid in discussion as the teacher introduces "friction" as a new vocabulary word. Next, the class will discuss the relationship between friction and motion. Real world examples will be explored and described as an increase or decrease in friction. Based on post-assessment data, follow-up instruction with targeted lessons may be needed.
This lesson was developed through a grant-funded project through Sweet Briar College and Lynchburg College and was originally published on STEM4Teachers.org.