Friction Racing

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In this activity, learners explore the unseen force of friction and how surfaces can slow moving objects at different rates. Learners will build ramps out of two types of materials and roll down a toy car (or similar object) to test which of surfaces has the least amount of resistance or friction. Activity includes step-by-step instructions with pictures, a video demonstrating the activity, a brief explanation of the science behind the activity, and a print out data chart to make predictions and record results.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 4 - 11

Resource Type:


Materials List (per student)

  • Books
  • Large piece of cardboard or poster board
  • A material to cover the surface of the cardboard. Examples: dish towel, t-shirt, denim jeans, sandpaper, bubble wrap
  • A toy car or any kind of toy or object with wheels that can roll across a flat surface
  • Ruler or nonstandard measuring device such a block or shoe
  • Pencil
  • Masking tape
  • Printable: Friction Racing Data Chart (PDF)


  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Units of Measurement
  • Physical Sciences
    • Energy
      • Potential and Kinetic Energy
    • Motion and Forces
      • Gravity
      • Momentum and Velocity
      • Newton's Laws
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • About Inquiry
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Toys


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, PBS, 2021

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