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To learn how friction affects motion, learners build a measurement tool from a rubber band and other simple materials. They measure how much the rubber band stretches when a weighted note card is dragged along different surfaces. They experiment with a range of materials to determine which provides the least/most friction. This activity can be combined with other activities to create a larger lesson. Resource contains vocabulary definitions and suggestions for assessment, extensions, and scaling for different levels of learners.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per student

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per student)

  • Note card
  • Paper clip
  • Rubber band
  • Bottle of glue (8 oz., serving as a weight)
  • String
  • Wax paper
  • Sandpaper
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Pen
  • Tape
  • Suggestions for additional materials: Saran Wrap, aluminum foil, cloth, or any other material on hand with an interesting texture


  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Units of Measurement
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Duren, Sabre ; Heavner, Ben ; Schaefer Zarske, Malinda ; Carlson, Denise

Source Collection

  • TeachEngineering


  • All rights reserved, Regents of the University of Colorado, 2004

Funding Sources:

  • Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE)
  • U.S. Department of Education
  • National Science Foundation, 0226322