4th Grade Friction Challenge


How can we stop a bus at the bottom of a slippery hill to safely pick up and drop off students?

MSP Training - ramp boards
Slide Activity – Stuck! Story

Essential Question:

How does friction affect the distance a car will roll?


Math Standard:

4.NF.C.6 Use decimal notation for fractions with denominators 10or 100. For example, rewrite 0.62 as 62/100; describe a length as0.62 meters; locate 0.62 on a number line diagram.

Science Standard:

GLE 407.11.2 Identify factors that influence the motion of an object.



TTW secure tape measures to the floor. TSW use different materials to investigate how they affect the movement of a car. TSW use a stopwatch to calculate the time each car takes to stop rolling.

TTW go over safety rules: The rubber bands can only be used to make the cars move. Cars should only be released in the direction away from the start line. No other objects should be used in the slingshot. No cars can be shot until all students are behind the start line. TSW work in groups of 3-4. TSW take turns to place the car inside a rubber band and slingshot the car across the different materials. Another student will write down the time and distance their car went in their chart. All students will calculate the speed of the car in their notebooks by dividing distance by time. TSW analyze which materials slow down the car. (TTW place a line behind the rubber band to show students where the car should be let go from. This line will be 5 cm behind the start line.)

(An adaptation of this lesson can be adding another set of three trials at the 10 cm mark behind start.)

Activity Materials:

Tape measure, tape, toy cars, rubber bands, sandpaper, drawer liner, shower curtain, cotton pillowcase, silk pillowcase, burlap, newspaper, towel, plastic bag.

Math Connection:

Division of distance by time. Measuring length using a measuring tape.

Friction Table

Trial 1
Distance Time
Trial 2
Distance Time
Trial 3
Distance Time
Drawer Liner



Shower Curtain


Downloadable Resources:

Source: Teacher Created for 2015 Summer STEM Trainings, 4th Grade