Race Track Physics

Race Track Physics
Item# racetrackphysics

Product Description

Race Track Physics

Children enjoy rolling things down a track and are more than willing to drop things if you ask them to. This activity is an exciting way to demonstrate the phys- ics of friction and falling objects and to race some cool things. I started doing this experiment to demonstrate the simple physics principle that 2 objects of different weight and mass will fall at the same rate if dropped through the air. When you take the same two objects and roll them down a hill or track, the heavier object will go faster.

MATERIALS: 1. Smooth track that can angled and hold two objects: Blu-Track, Hot Wheels track or even cardboard sheets.

2. Small cars of different weight

3. Balls of assorted sizes.

4. Masking tape to hold track.

5. Paper and pencil to record results.

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HOW TO: 1. Set your tracks up so 2 objects can race side by side at the same angle. Use tape to secure it for multiple use.

2. Divide the cars into “light” cars and “heavy” cars. Do the same for the balls.

3. Race a “light” car against a “heavy” car at least 3 times on the track and record the result. Take the same two cars and drop them from an equal height and record which lands first on your chart. Summarize.

4. Try the same thing with the balls.

HOW TO PRESENT IT TO YOUR GROUP: 1. Explain the principles first and then conduct experiments to see if they are true.

2. Have several sets of cars, balls and at least 2 track sets.

3. Have teams of students so that everyone is involved. Take turns with cars and balls as well as switching sets once they have recorded their data. 4. Consider having an adult do the charting.

5. Once students have seen the data recorded and understand the experiment, let them free play with the tracks. They will continue learning on their own.

THE LESSON: This is a physics lesson that demonstrates the principles of gravity, energy and resistance. Two objects will fall (gravity) at the same rate of speed if you drop them through the air. If you roll them down a track they will travel at different rates because of resistance (where and how the object touches the surface of the track).

PRESCHOOL VERSION: The first part of this experiment for preschoolers is to gather them and explain how gravity and friction affect the speed of dropping objects and rolling objects. The students will generally let you demonstrate dropping balls and rolling cars once before they get restless. Try to wrap this up in 5 minutes.

Set the tracks up and an area for ball dropping. Have children cycle through the stations, experimenting and taking turns with both processes. Older children may continuously roll cars down the track while your youngest students may just observe. If they are engaged in some way, it is appropriate for their stage of development. The activity will usually hold attention for 10-15 minutes.

VOCABULARY: Physics, friction, resistance energy, motion