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In the Coefficient of Friction Inquiry Lab Kit for AP® Physics 1, identify the physical variables that affect the force of friction between two objects.

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AP Physics 1, Big Idea 3, Investigation 4

In many physics force and motion problems, friction is often minimized or even ignored. In the real world, there are many practical applications that are used to increase or decrease friction, depending on the desired results. The purpose of this advanced-inquiry lab is to design a procedure to identify the physical variables that affect the force of friction between two objects.

The lab begins with an introductory activity to determine the coefficient of static and kinetic friction between a wood block and a tabletop. Students create and use free-body diagrams to analyze each situation. The procedure provides a model for the guided-inquiry activity, during which students design and carry out experiments to determine variables that influence frictional forces between surfaces.

Complete for 24 students working in groups of three. All materials are reusable.

Correlation to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Science & Engineering Practices

Asking questions and defining problems
Planning and carrying out investigations
Analyzing and interpreting data
Using mathematics and computational thinking
Constructing explanations and designing solutions

Disciplinary Core Ideas

HS-ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions
HS-ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution

Crosscutting Concepts

Cause and effect
Scale, proportion, and quantity

Performance Expectations

HS-ETS1-2. Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.
HS-ETS1-3. Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.