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Test force, motion, and friction. Build an adjustable roller ball race track with a cardboard box.
During a unit of study on gravity, ask students to define friction. Have students think of everyday experiences involving force, motion, and friction. Talk about how friction acts upon moving objects to slow them.
In small groups, students design roller ball race tracks from recycled cardboard boxes and construction paper. One way is to turn a box on its side and reassemble it so one side bends down as a ramp.
Stabilize the box with masking tape. Cut box top flaps into ramp supports. Create different angles.
Cut paper to cover box surfaces. Attach with Crayola School Glue. Air dry.
Students mark ramps with lanes and label ramp support levels with Crayola Washable Markers.
Ask students to gather balls of different sizes, shapes, and surface textures. Mold balls with Crayola Model Magic. To vary the weight and texture, add aquarium gravel. Air dry overnight.
Cut different surfaces (sandpaper, aluminum foil, fabric) to attach to ramps to vary the friction.
Students experiment! Predict rolling speeds of various combinations of balls, ramp levels, and friction surfaces. Create data grids with markers. Use a stopwatch to time experiments. Students record relative or actual ball speeds. Color code data. Students report their findings.